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Coronavirus, the Coming Climate Crisis, & Constituent Conversations Cancelled Today

April 19, 2020

Dear Constituent:

I hope you are staying healthy and hopeful amid the coronavirus pandemic. These are frightening and challenging times - my parents lived through the bombing of London in World War II, but I have never experienced anything like this.

As we strive to survive the crisis here in Boone County, I want to congratulate Health Director Stephanie Browning and City Manager John Glascock for their leadership. The "Stay at Home" Order implemented on March 25th has been effective so far in limiting the number of cases and ensuring our hospitals do not get overwhelmed.

Boone County COVID-19 Cumulative and recovered Cases

Here's some important local information:

This week, the City is hosting a series of virtual public forums to gather community input on how we should allocate our Federal COVID-19 Recovery Funds - register here to participate.

Over my next few newsletters, I will discuss what we can learn from the coronavirus pandemic and how we might better prepare for the future. In two weeks' time, I will focus on how the crisis has impacted the economy and whether we can create a different kind of economy that would make our society more resilient. I'd like to start by hearing from you - please email me and let me know your definition of "The Economy" - what does that term mean to you, who decides the rules of the economy, and how does it impact people's lives?

Today, I want to ask whether our current experience can help us as we look ahead to the next global emergency.

The Coming Climate Crisis

The coronavirus pandemic will pass.

Tens of thousands of Americans will die, millions will be sickened, and tens of millions will suffer from the economic fall-out. But, within 12-18 months, scientists will develop treatments and a vaccine. COVID-19 will join the list of other infectious diseases - deadly for some, but most of us will be protected. Gatherings of 50 people will no longer represent an existential threat. Much of what we consider to be "normal life" will return ... in 12-18 months.

However, the next global crisis will be different. It will build up more slowly (in fact, it has been building up for a couple of centuries), it will be much more devastating than coronavirus, and it will not pass within 12-18 months - it will impact our children and future generations for centuries, maybe forever. By the time we're experiencing the level of crisis we're experiencing now with coronavirus, it will be far too late - scientists will not be able to develop a vaccine to reverse the momentum of accelerating global climate change.

The time to act is now!

Just as we "led with the epidemiology" in confronting coronavirus, we need to lead with science to avert or mitigate the climate disaster. And the scientists have been telling us for decades that we need to stop pumping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. In recent years, cities across the world, including Columbia, have heard the advice and developed plans to reduce carbon emissions - Columbia's Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) has been designed to eliminate municipal emissions by 2050, and eliminate citywide emissions by 2060.

However, a plan is only a plan. Implementation requires effective legislation, which involves difficult decisions and strong political leadership. Columbia's Long Range Transportation Plan budgets for a massive expansion of our regional roadway system, we are still locked into long-term energy contracts with coal-fired power plants, and we are on the brink of building a new airport terminal designed to increase air travel into and out of Columbia. We need to evaluate whether these plans are aligned with the CAAP and, if necessary, rethink them.

There are encouraging developments at the national level, which will help us do this. The bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763) would use market forces to incrementally curb emissions and smoothly transition the United States to a "clean energy economy" over a twelve-year period. By charging an annually-increasing fee on the production of fossil fuels and returning 100% of the revenues collected to American families, this federal legislation would create financial incentives for businesses, government agencies, and households to invest in renewable energy infrastructure and production.

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act is supported by scientists, economists, Democrats, and Republicans because it is simple, effective, and does not increase the size of government. The carbon dividend puts money directly into the pockets of low- and middle-income Americans, enabling everyone to make rational investment decisions with the knowledge that the cost of fossil fuels is increasing. The policies contained in this bill will reduce America's emissions by at least 40% in the first 12 years and create 2.1 million new jobs through economic growth in local communities.

To learn more about this pending federal legislation, join the Citizen Climate Lobby's Virtual Earth Day: Uniting from Home next Saturday, April 25th. The event will feature world-renowned climate scientist and evangelical Christian, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, as the keynote speaker - here's the full program (all times, Central):

  • 1:00 pm Opening Keynote
  • 1:45 pm Three Easy Actions You Can Take
  • 2:00 pm Breakout Sessions (1-2 hours):
    • Climate Advocate Training
    • Climate Organizing During the Pandemic
    • Holding Respectful Climate Conversations Across Party Lines
    • Citizen Climate Lobby Volunteer Spotlight Panel

I encourage you to register for next Saturday's Virtual Earth Day: Uniting from Home and learn more about Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Acy.

Today's Constituent Conversations Online CANCELLED

Because of a technical glitch, I am forced to cancel this afternoon's Constituent Conversations Online. Please don't hesitate to email with any questions or concerns.

I still hope to hold Constituent Conversations Online on the following Sundays, between 2:00 - 4:00 pm:

  • Sunday, May 3rd
  • Sunday, May 17th

Upcoming dates are always available at my web site.

Cheers, Ian