Op-ed: Listen to the kids. Climate change must be addressed.

Congressman Jerry Nadler (Courtesy of the Congressman’s office)

BY CONGRESSMAN JERRY NADLER | Every Friday, 14-year-old Manhattan resident Alexandria Villaseñor will wake up at 8:00 am and skip school to travel to the United Nations Headquarters. Here, she will sit on a bench, often alone, and picket to build awareness about the dangers of climate change. 

Last week, Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old founder of School Strike 4 Climate, and young people from across the globe joined Alexandria for the “Global Climate Strike,” which saw students walk out of school to protest climate change inaction. 

Alexandria, like thousands of other young people, recognizes that her generation cannot afford to wait any longer to take meaningful action against climate change. Their advocacy is critical and admirable, but our children and grandchildren should not need to skip school and stage mass protests to stop climate change. 

Yet, the federal government has put them in this position by refusing to address the climate crisis.  

Climate change is real and threatens all of us, regardless of nationality, political party, or economic status. Extreme climate change has already arrived in the United States and impacts every congressional district across our country. 

In New York City, the potential for stronger storms and rising seas mean Sandy-level flooding could occur once every 23 years as opposed to once every 400. The 2018 National Climate Assessment, a report compiled by 13 federal scientific agencies, warns that we only have a small window of time to take meaningful action to cut carbon emissions if we are to avoid irreversible changes. 

Scientists warn that window could close within about a decade if the earth heats up by an average of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. If that happens, shrinking glaciers in the poles could lead to a massive sea-level rise, harming the planet’s ability to recover from further warming. 

That metric may seem theoretical, but it’s not; according to the analysis from The Washington Post, 71 counties have already hit the 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit mark, including all five boroughs. 

At a time when America should be leading the global fight against climate change, the Trump Administration has taken our nation backward, recklessly withdrawing us from the Paris Agreement and rolling back countless environmental regulations designed to curb greenhouse-gas emissions. 

The Administration has even gone so far as to undermine the very science of climate change by blocking federal climate scientists from publishing data about the climate crisis and scrubbing all references to climate change from government websites. These actions are careless, and the consequences could be irreversible. 

In the face of the Administration’s dangerous retreat on environmental policy, the House has not been silent. As a critical first step, the House passed multiple bills that would require the United States to stay in the Paris Agreement. 

Additionally, the House passed legislation to block the Trump Administration’s dangerous plan to auction off up to 90 percent of our nation’s offshore waters for oil and gas drilling. 

Democratic Members of Congress have put forward bold proposals to combat this crisis. I am proud to support Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal Resolution, which challenges our federal government to address the changing climate now by bringing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions down to net-zero and meeting 100 percent of power demand in the country through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources by 2030. 

The Green New Deal addresses the urgency of the moment and is the start of a serious conversation we must be having in 2019. 

As I work tirelessly with my Democratic colleagues in Washington, I am proud that New York has become the national leader in the fight against climate change at the state level. I commend Governor Cuomo for signing into law the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, the most ambitious state mandate for climate action in the country that includes a requirement for the state to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040. 

It is my hope that New York will stay the course and reject wasteful projects that would take us backward like the Williams Pipeline. 

For the sake of future generations of young people, the federal government must move quickly to tackle the climate crisis head-on. We must also improve our climate resilience to protect Americans from the increasingly extreme weather and natural disasters that are being driven by climate change. 

The President must learn from young people like Alexandria Villaseñor, and act before it is too late.

Congressman Jerry Nadler represents the 10th Congressional District of New York, which includes Manhattan and Brooklyn.

5 Responses to Op-ed: Listen to the kids. Climate change must be addressed.

  1. Santosh Nandabalan

    Thank you for your leadership on this issue, Congressman Nadler! The proposed Williams pipeline has already been rejected twice and must be rejected a third time by Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

    If we are to achieve the goals set out by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), no new fossil fuel infrastructure can be approved and we must find ways to replace the existing infrastructure with renewables.

    Yet, so many other proposals for fracked gas projects, like the Danskammer, Meadowlands and Gowanus power plants, are still on the table. Governor Cuomo must know approving any of these proposals is not in line with taking the meaningful kind of action on climate change that strikers like Alexandria Villasenor have been calling for.

    Other New York congress members must lead by example and urge Governor Cuomo to oppose these fossil fuel projects. Please urge your congress member to support a real Green New Deal by opposing all new fossil fuel projects being proposed in our beautiful state.

  2. I just called your office about this.

    Rep. Nadler, please add your name to the 65 co-sponsors of HR 763- The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019.

  3. Your leadership on this and on presidential investigation is much appreciated and respected.

  4. Jayne Johns
    October 5,2019 – 11:17 [m

    Thank you for your understanding and support of all efforts to bring climate change and its consequences to the forefront of you state and all others. As a citizen of Pennsylvania, I lived through the dirty black skies of the steel mills and cared for Black Lung patients from the coal mines. The science is irrefutable. To deny it is to bury your head deep in the sand and the current administration has repeatedly shown its ignorance and arrogant refusal to even look at the subject. Instead, it had cut critical programs which have shown to be working to clean the air, decrease H2O pollution, protect the land resources and protect endangered species. Everything/one is inter-dependent from sub-cellular parts to entire ecosystems. My mother is 92 and has often said that she will be gone before any of this matters. After many discussions she now realizes that she is already seeing some of these dramatic changes. So much for too old to learn!

    I watch with an obsessive patriotism the activities going on in Washington. Thank you for pushing for the impeachment investigation. And I thank Speaker Polosey and everyone else for staying focused and proceeding at the necessary pace to complete the work. We must stop this administration and its corruption. Thank you

  5. ridiculous – stop building places that need cars because of lack of public transit and put a huge surcharge on all the home deliveries the kids get – Amazon etc all that food they cant be bothered to go to the store for! stop population growth and the carbon footprint that makes and stop the ridiculous notion that an apartment for 2K+ per month is affordable housing – we have many Americans without jobs we do not need H1B visas – we need laws enforced,

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