This year California suffered the most destructive wildfire season in its history. Nearly 2 million acres were torched, claiming more than 13,900 homes and 88 lives. Montana avoided the worst of it this time, but 2017’s devastation is still fresh in memory. Last year was our state’s most destructive wildfire season on record.
In mid-November, President Donald Trump visited the charred rubble of what used to Paradise, California. When asked if seeing the wreckage made him rethink his opinion on climate change, he answered “no.” The National Climate Assessment was released days later. Compiled by 13 federal agencies, this report states that climate change is unequivocally real, already intensifying wildfires, and more communities are headed the way of Paradise if nothing is done.
While climate change is portrayed as a fraught topic among Americans, there is less division than commonly supposed. Most Americans believe climate change is happening and that humans are the main cause. Research conducted at Yale and George Mason University estimates that 70 percent of Americans believe the Earth is warming, 57 percent believe it’s caused mostly by human activities, and 68 percent believe fossil fuel companies should be required to pay a carbon tax.
In response, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act was recently introduced into Congress by three Republicans and three Democrats. This policy would put a price on carbon emissions and return net revenue to households in the form of monthly dividends. It’s a market-based solution that would drive down carbon pollution, encourage innovation in renewable energy technologies, and create an estimated 2 million jobs in the next decade. It’s not hard to see why lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are in support.
In order to prevent the destruction of other “Paradises” across our state and country, we should support policies like this one and the legislators that back them.