MSU Extension shared the Montana Climate Assessment (montanaclimate.org) with the Sweet Grass County Chamber of Commerce. Some of us have been discussing solutions to mitigate our changing climate.
NASA explains global warming and our changing climate, based on evidence from Earth-orbiting satellites: “The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95 percent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia.” (climate.nasa.gov)
Civilization has increased the carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gas, content of the Earth’s atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. “There is no question that increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm in response,” says NASA.
Impacts include the increase in intensity/frequency of extreme weather, wildfires, drought, declining snowpack, warming temperatures, flooding, and invasive weeds — among others — that we’re experiencing in Montana and globally.
To stabilize the climate, we can lower the greenhouse gas atmospheric concentrations in part by transitioning to low‑carbon energy sources. There are solutions, both national and home-based, to help grow the economy, create jobs, improve our environment and save money as we make this transition, without growing the government. Here’s a few.
Nationally, support the Carbon Fee and Dividend's (CFD's) legislative policy to encourage alternatives by putting a fee on fossil fuels at the source (well, mine, port). One hundred percent of the net revenues from the fee is returned to U.S. households as a monthly dividend (citizensclimatelobby.org/basics-carbon-fee-dividend). Economists agree as long as carbon pollution remains free, the true costs of fossil fuels will be hidden. Republican statesmen, such as former Secretary of State and Treasury George Shultz, support the CFD and the similar Carbon Dividends Plan (citizensclimatelobby.org/george-shultz-senior-statesman-climate-solution).
A border adjustment, applied to imports from countries without a fee, would discourage relocation of businesses and jobs, and encourage other nations to adopt a comparable system. Among others, Canada plans a nationwide carbon price this year.
An encouraging development is the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus. It has 78 members — 39 Republicans and 39 Democrats — and is working on “economically viable options to reduce climate risk and protect our nation’s economy, security, infrastructure, agriculture, water supply and public safety” (citizensclimatelobby.org/climate-solutions-caucus).
At home, find out when demand for electricity from your local utility is at peak level and run your dishwasher and washing machine during off-peak hours. Smart appliances, enabled with WattTime technology, lowers your carbon emissions without impacting costs or comfort.
Caulking windows, adding window film, insulating attics, walls, under-insulated cavities and hot water pipes reduce costs/saves energy. Install solar panels by purchasing/leasing a solar photovoltaic system or signing up for a power purchase agreement. You don’t pay for the system, just the energy it produces. Or you can support community solar (montanarenewables.org).
Purchase carbon offsets on your next airplane flight using the Good Traveler Program (thegoodtraveler.org) and buy carbon offsets to support tree planting
Project Drawdown (drawdown.org) has 100 solutions. Here are 12: onshore wind turbines, reduced food waste, solar farms, silvopasture, rooftop solar, regenerative agriculture, afforestation, conservation agriculture, managed grazing, insulation, LED lighting and district heating.
NASA is working on hundreds of other mitigation, adaption, government resource, and energy innovation solutions. It’s wonderful to see what scientists and engineers are inventing. Some of them are mind boggling, but so was the telephone at one time.
All these solutions work together. We can reach the point in the next 30 years where our fossil fuel emissions peak and then annually decline. The CFD policy would accelerate the pace of these solutions.
The volunteer, nonprofit, nonpartisan Citizens’ Climate Lobby lobbies Congress to enact the CFD. You can contact Senators Daines and Tester and Representative Gianforte and urge them to support it; ask Rep. Gianforte to join the House bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.
I’ve been tackling the pasture cheatgrass, dreading the summer’s wildfire smoke, and planning to buy an air purifier/HEPA filter. I’m saving up for an electric vehicle that could be charged at the Tesla charging station at The Fort in Big Timber. I sure could use that monthly dividend check.
Alex Amonette is a member of the Sweet Grass County Chamber of Commerce.