By Carlos Cepeda-Diaz, Citizens’ Climate Lobby
Turns out, those distant pictures of sad polar bears standing on melting ice are much closer than we thought. Today, it is clear that human-driven climate change amplifies injustices such as racism and class disparities, kills ecosystems, and can cripple economies around the world.
On a local level, Floridians have already seen its effects through longer and harsher hurricane seasons, increasingly expensive meat and dairy products, and rising seas. Not to mention, the oppressive heat that gets worse every summer is not slowing down at all.
Inaction will result in irreparable damage.
Benefits of Renewable Energy
Luckily for us, there is a great solution: reduce the burning of fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy. No matter who you are, you have something to gain from green energy.
Even if you are not obsessively concerned about the damage from climate change — millions of lives ruined, disproportion harm to minorities, destruction of our natural world, reduced crop yields — you can still benefit from the integration of renewable energy systems.
They allow us to diversify energy supplies, greatly benefit public health, create new jobs, and bring down energy costs. Investing in renewable energy will enhance the life of nearly every human on Earth regardless of rising temperatures.
If it’s so great, why don’t we have green energy already?
In short: money. The switch to 100% renewable energy could cost $5.7 trillion, according to the Institute of Energy Research. Since renewables would undermine the fossil fuel industry, its leaders are hesitant to make way for green development.
Many politicians who accept donations from oil companies also argue that switching is a bad and expensive idea. However, this movement is bigger than just one industry — especially considering that it is by no means a perfect one.
Keep in mind that these same companies are partly responsible for why we have gotten to this point in the first place. They were among the first to learn about climate change and started campaigns to debunk the science.
While they did this, their own oil rigs were being raised to account for the inevitable sea-level rise that was to come. By making necessary cuts such as taxing carbon emissions rather than giving tax breaks to oil giants, we will be able to afford a smooth switch to renewable energy. That way, it will benefit the economy on top of its important social and environmental rewards.
Money talks, but so do voters. To see this through, we must work together and use our voices for change. Something as simple as showing support for renewable energy by contacting your local representatives goes a long way. Also, staying informed on sustainability related legislation such as the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act shows local, state, and federal representatives that people care and they have to as well.
If they don’t, we have the power to elect representatives who do. It’s time for a real change. This archaic and harmful industry must go in order to make space for a sustainable and humanitarian energy system. Goodbye fossil fuels– let’s invest in our future.
Carlos Cepeda-Diaz is a sophomore at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA, and a member of the Boca Raton chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.
“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.