By Lola Jusidman, #PutAPriceOnIt Fellow
Climate change has lived permanently in my mind since I learned of it at age 12. No amount of science fiction books and epic space films could prepare me to learn of such a pervasive, unjust, and difficult existential threat. I felt betrayed by older generations and the government for exposing children and nonhumans to such a bleak future. In the decade since I have fought for fossil fuel divestment and studied climate problems. Somehow, during those years, the human mind’s knack for momentary ignorance has allowed me to live a full and happy life.
Our planet and our species have surpassed two important milestones in the last few days. The first milestone: our atmosphere has permanently surpassed a concentration of CO2 at 400 parts per million, and it is highly unlikely that we will return to the “safe” concentration of 350 parts per million which we passed in 1988, much less the natural, preindustrial concentration of 280 parts per million. The second milestone: We are about to blow past our carbon budget. If we develop and combust any new oil or gas fields, we will warm our planet beyond 1.5 degrees C. Add coal mines to that, and we will surpass 2 degrees C–a death sentence for small island nations.
This was never inevitable. We could have prevented this by implementing an effective and well-enforced carbon price. We shouldn’t have to endure tear gas, militarized police, and arrest in order to stop new fossil fuel infrastructure; a carbon price should make companies pay for the effects of their pollution and leave their carbon in the ground. It is past time that our legislators work together for a federal carbon price. Knowing this I am extremely proud and grateful to be working with #PutAPriceOnIt to bring my generation on board.