State Of Union Ignored Climate Change – We Should Not

In the recent SOTU one omission stood out, that of climate change. Instead the President bragged about eliminating regulations and promoting fossil fuel development, both contribute to the crisis rather than addressing it. The Democratic party response was not much better with climate change only mentioned briefly. Bernie Sanders gave the only response that reflected the immediate urgency to address climate change when he asked “How can a president of the United States give a State of the Union speech and not mention climate change when the leading scientists of the world tell us that climate change is real, is caused by human activity, and is already causing devastating harm in the United States and in much of the world. Further, they tell us that we have a very short 12 years in order to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy if we are going to have a planet that is healthy and habitable for our kids and grandchildren.”

This indeed is very troubling given the recent release of the 4th Climate Assessment that Sanders was referring to in his speech. The Global Change Research Act of 1990 mandates that the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) deliver a report to Congress and the President no less than every four years on climate change and its impact on our Country. This year the report laid out specific devastating effects of a changing climate on the economy, health and environment in our Country. The climate change we are experiencing is unprecedented. No part of our Country will go unharmed by the impact of climate change. From melting ice caps, rising seas, droughts and floods, extreme weather events, agriculture disruptions, impact to our clean waters, increase in wildfires, the devastating impact of rising temperatures will hit every section of our country. Nowhere will be safe from the devastating impact of climate change.

“The report (also) puts the most precise price tags to date on the cost to the United States economy of projected climate impacts: $141 billion from heat-related deaths, $118 billion from sea level rise and $32 billion from infrastructure damage by the end of the century, among others.” Look at the amount of money that it will cost as we do little to nothing to prepare or mitigate the impacts. Have we forgotten “a stich in time, saves nine?”

Loss of life, loss of lands and homes, costs to our economy, national security issue, and yet we do little to address this very real and immediate crisis. We have silence on the part of our leaders in (the White House), as well as from our local state, national, and county leaders. This is unacceptable. The report concludes “We must take actions to climate-related risks will continue to grow without additional action. Decisions made today determine risk exposure for current and future generations and will either broaden or limit options to reduce the negative consequences of climate change.”

What will we do to mitigate the devastating impact? To me, ignoring it, silence, is not an option. I want to be able to say to my grandchildren, I did everything I could. How about you?

I encourage readers to take a look at the assessment and its summaries. Then let us come together as one community to demand our leaders take actions. We must not ignore this challenge. Our future depends on it.

Judi Lutz Woods is a Fredonia resident and official with the Climate Reality Project.