Letters to the Editor

Ignoring climate change is fiscally irresponsible

I suspect most of us are both careful with money and thoughtful about our children’s future. If that describes you, then consider the logic underlying the approach some take toward climate change: Yes, it might be occurring and caused by spewing carbon into the atmosphere, but dealing with it is too expensive. Such an attitude might be understandable if we were taking about, say, funding a new swimming pool in town. But it betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of climate change: We don’t have the luxury sitting this one out. Our only choices are whether to adopt measures while we still have time to mitigate the worst, or to react hastily to increasingly catastrophic fires, dramatic storms, severe droughts, and frequent floods. Emergency responses and relocating millions from flooded coastlines will cost much more than transitioning to clean energy.

The irony is that smartly-designed policies to price carbon will actually produce a net benefit to the economy. Job losses will occur in fossil fuel industries, but they’ll be more than compensated by a vibrant clean energy sector.

Our decision is whether we — whose generation has been part of the problem — begin to fix it, or if instead, we relegate the costs of an ever-angrier climate to our children. We wouldn’t, as we enter old-age, pawn-off needed maintenance on our family house, leaving our kids to inherit a run-down heap. But that’s exactly what we’re doing when we claim we “can’t afford” to face the climate crisis.

Richard Harris, Olympia