FOLBR - Friends Of the Lower Blue River

Sustainable Hiker - Beyond the Trail Series

Boiling Point

Hot Sun

Millions of Americans will visit our magnificent forests and waterways over the summer engaged in hiking, rafting, fishing, and camping. This is coincidentally at a time when we are in full crisis mode, as the Pacific Northwest and Northeast Coast bake in an extremely dangerous heat wave. Humans are suffering and dying. Infrastructure is severely strained as roads are buckling and power cables are melting.

This follows an extreme episode in the already notoriously arid southwest where a 20-year mega drought continues with expectations that it will get worse.

Global warming trends are a significant contributor to the precarious situation we face. The parched soil is not able to help absorb the heat as temperatures rise. Global warming is costing us and will continue to do so in the future unless we act with massive ferocity.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee told MSNBC. "This is the beginning of a permanent emergency... we have to tackle the source of this problem, which is climate change."

If we do not rise to this challenge, the impact is difficult to fathom. Many studies substantiate the cost of doing nothing is roughly $150 trillion due to exacerbated flooding, severe drought, and more frequent wildfires. These wildfires have negative impact long after the fires are out. They leave damaging erosion and heavy sediment flowing into our waterways. Interstate 70 continues to have major mudslides near the burn scar from the Grizzly Creek Fire, closing vital transportation routes for essential goods.

Global warming has been politicized, but remains a highly economic dynamic, impacting the poor to a major degree and all of us to a large degree. Solving this will cost money and human capital. But given the continued negative and projected outcomes, it seems reasonable to explore the investment needed to stem this tide.

The cost estimates from major investment houses to the International Monetary Fund range from $300 billion to $50 trillion over the next two decades. That seems like a good investment overall, considering it will cost at least three times that if we do nothing. The return on investment will lead to robust human health and foster a sustainable economy that is less susceptible to the climate's wrath.

We can harness human ingenuity and use our natural assets to battle climate change. Technological advances in energy efficiency and carbon capture combined with massive forest health initiatives and regenerative soil programs will help us heal our planet.

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, is legislation that has the potential to move the needle to a more equitable forward-looking economy.

It basically would price and tax carbon at the source of production across industry globally. It will encourage companies to innovate and reduce their carbon footprint. We can foster a healthier future with less damage to our life producing natural assets. We can return real capital to all Americans, particularly in the middle to lower income strata.

We are at a tipping point. Our decisions will determine our future. Are we ready to vote for dynamic positive legislation and to invest capital for a new era? I know I am.

Tom Koehler
Sustainable Hiker

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