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Give our climate a higher priority
David Kyler
Guest columnist David Kyler

Claims being made about the need to protect U.S. jobs and prosperity by rejecting the climate-change issue are completely unfounded. In fact, there are now more than eight times more jobs in climate-friendly clean energy (wind, solar, etc.) than in coal.  

Market forces favor clean-power technologies and the rapidly growing number of jobs they support, despite tax subsidies that still unfairly – and wastefully — support polluting fossil-fuels.

In fact — with supreme irony — those who deny the need to cut the emission of climate-warming greenhouse gases are distorting energy markets, while also working against America’s economy and quality of life. By refusing to support rapid conversion from fossil-fuels to clean energy, defenders of the status quo will slow the urgently needed reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions, which will cause rising seas and temperatures to do more damage through erosion, flooding, and destruction of ocean habitats.

Major threats to marine food supplies as well as billions of dollars in property-damage caused by rising sea-level are just two of many dire dangers that grow as climate disruption is ignored in U.S. policy. These and related climate-change damages will take an enormous toll that will be especially harmful to coastal areas.

Some 10,000 jobs in coastal Georgia are derived from fisheries that will suffer greatly as marine resources further decline due to climbing ocean temperature and acidification.

Thousands of other jobs here are generated by tourism that will be in harm’s way as temperatures rise and storm-surge threats accelerate. And billions of dollars in coastal development will be at greater risk from ocean storm surge.

Across the nation, distancing U.S. policy from confronting climate challenges will forfeit America’s leading edge on profitable clean-energy innovations and their burgeoning markets. For instance, Saudi Arabia and China are outpacing our nation in the production and implementation of solar and wind technologies, while many European countries already produce over half their electricity with clean-power sources having no greenhouse-gas emissions.

Across a spectrum of economic sectors, contrary to the Trump Administration, a host of the nation’s business leaders strongly support U.S. actions needed to successfully confront climate change. Moreover, some thirty American cities and many states are committed to taking aggressive action to boost clean energy investments and curb greenhouse gases, while reaping the economic benefits.

The longer we delay in eliminating the causes of our overheating climate, the more our nation will suffer – economically and environmentally. U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accord will handicap our nation’s economic and diplomatic potential while also jeopardizing human health, natural resources, and our quality of life.

Kyler is director of St. Simon’s Center for a Sustainable Coast.

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