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Local View: Celebrate that federal act is finally offering climate hope

From the column: "Please remember the notable events and people in the decades-long struggle against fossil fuel’s devastating, global warming-causing greenhouse-gas emissions."

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Dave Granlund / Cagle Cartoons
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Up to $1,800 in annual energy savings for the average American homeowner are in the new Inflation Reduction Act, according to Rewiring America .

The act is an enormous accomplishment with many important long-term benefits for all Americans, including lowered health care costs, requiring corporations and the rich to pay a fairer share of taxes, and lowering our national debt.

Most importantly, it is a watershed moment where one party in Congress chose to address the climate crisis by reducing U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions 40% by 2030. This will be accomplished by incentivizing the innovations and investments necessary for our 21st-century, renewable-energy economy and by enabling net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. These goals are critical to the future of humanity and all living things sharing our planet.

The act’s important climate features, according to Senate Democrats , include major clean-energy investments; major tax credits and rebates for purchasing new and used electric vehicles, solar panels, and efficient heating and cooling systems and home appliances; major help for communities suffering the most from pollution; and the creation of millions of green-economy jobs

Please remember the notable events and people in the decades-long struggle against fossil fuel’s devastating, global warming-causing greenhouse-gas emissions. Human misery has been detailed in countless news stories about droughts, fires, destroyed crops, dead livestock, barren farmlands, and starving families. There have been images of heat waves, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and devastated communities.

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We’ve heard of people who have lost their livelihoods, homes, possessions, and loved ones; of refugees on miserable marches or clinging to boats, making desperate journeys to support their families after their lands have gone barren from drought they did not cause; and of endangered animals of all species threatened by environmental damage and forest fires, resulting in their displacement, starvation, and threat of extinction.

Recall our 65-year environmental history and the people dedicated to addressing climate change.

In 1958, Charles David Keeling developed a means of measuring accumulating atmospheric carbon dioxide.

In 1962, Rachel Carson ’s landmark book, “Silent Spring,” raised the alarm that our fragile environment, critical to human existence, is vulnerable to our actions.

In 1968, the first photos from space showed the isolated, small, blue-and-white marble, Earth, home to all life we know and to the realization that there is no “Planet B” to rescue us.

In 1969, oil spills off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, foreshadowed 1989’s Exxon Valdez environmental disaster and the massive tragedy that affected New York’s Love Canal from unregulated industrial pollution that damaged many lives.

The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, with Americans nationwide protesting the threat to our air and waters. Republican President Richard Nixon signed the landmark Clean Air Act of 1970 and Clean Water Act of 1972.

In 1987, the U.S. joined the international Montreal treaty that banned global ozone-depleting substances. It resolved the ozone-layer crisis but inadvertently worsened global warming by substituting refrigerant chemicals with severe greenhouse-gas effects.

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James Hansen delivered his watershed congressional testimony, in which he stated, "The greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now,” in 1988.

In 2006, Vice President Al Gore’s work advancing climate awareness from his initial congressional global warming hearings led to his film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” and subsequent climate action.

Countless inspiring climate leaders from diverse backgrounds, countries, and experiences — well represented by courageous15-year-old Greta Thunberg — organized the school climate-strike movement in 2018.

Americans should celebrate and thank those concerned people, friends, and colleagues who spent untold hours and energy focusing attention on climate solutions. We can also express gratitude to Sens. Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and their staffers for the extraordinary contributions and tireless work that helped to create and pass the Inflation Reduction Act.

The bill is not perfect, but it offers hope for eventual victory over the climate crisis and for a livable world for our children.

Mike Overend of Two Harbors is a volunteer for the Minnesota Northland Chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

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Mike Overend

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