A recently released U.N. report warns of another alarming impact worsened by the climate crisis — the extinction of an estimated million species. As disturbing as that prediction is, based on public reaction it appears that the implications are either being misunderstood or recklessly ignored.

Robert Watson, head of the U.N. panel producing the report, said that “biodiversity decline threatens the foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health, and quality of life worldwide.”

Unfortunately, many of our leaders — in both government and industry — evidently think that short-term corporate profit-making and re-election of business-friendly officials should dominate the decisions governing human use of the Earth.

Are we willing to tolerate escalating threats to vital life-support systems because it’s just so profitable?

If America is to effectively confront these daunting challenges, now is the time to take quick, decisive action to curb the main human-based cause of the climate crisis — release of greenhouse gases (GHGs), primarily emitted when extracting and burning fossil fuels.

Several steps are fundamental to prompt reduction of GHGs: 1. Eliminate fossil-fuel subsides; 2. Prohibit fossil-fuel projects on federal lands; 3. Ban campaign donations made by major GHG emitters; 4. Mandate compensation for damages caused by fossil-fuel facilities and emissions; 5. Boost incentives for clean power, energy efficiency, and carbon sequestration.

Delaying urgently needed reforms will jeopardize rapidly vanishing options for preventing a calamitous future. It’s imperative that Georgians tell Congress — plus local and state authorities — to promptly adopt and implement the above policies to control our overheating climate.

David Kyler

Center for a Sustainable Coast

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