by Glen Besa
Today, students across the United States and the planet will leave their classrooms to educate their parents and politicians on the urgency of climate change and how “business as usual” is jeopardizing their future.
This reversal of roles comes about because too many parents and far too many politicians, including most Democrats, fail basic climate math.
The very basics of climate math are not hard. It comes down to understanding the difference between addition and subtraction. In order to save the planet and our children’s future we need to subtract, that is, cut carbon emissions by 45% by 2030. Those parents and politicians failing in climate math continue to support policies and projects that add to the carbon pollution in our atmosphere.
Like bad students, some of these politicians actually cheat on their exams and try to fool the public into believing that they really care about and understand climate math basics. In Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam is a prime example of a cheater on his climate math exam.
The paper Ralph turned in for his climate exam explains how he is reducing green house gas emissions from fossil fuel power plants by 30% from 2020 to 2030 and how he aspires to do the same for carbon pollution from the transportation sector. In reality, Northam actively supports two massive fracked gas pipeline projects that may represent the largest increase in carbon pollution emissions in the history of Virginia.
Governor Northam’s landmark climate initiative would have Virginia participate in the Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap and trade program for fossil fuel power plants that, according to DEQ, would cut carbon emissions by 8.4 million tons per year. That’s a good thing!
But sadly, while Ralph attempts to take credit for reining in 8.4 million tons of carbon pollution emissions, he actively supports the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines which together would increase carbon pollution by more than 70 million tons per year.
Clearly, the students striking today understand climate math better than the majority of our politicians who continue to support policies and projects that fail to cut overall carbon pollution. Some of these politicians, like Governor Ralph Northam, try to get a passing grade by cheating on their climate math exam. Carrying this metaphor a little further, we should note that at least Northam is still in school while the Republican legislators working to obstruct Virginia’s participation in RGGI are climate math dropouts.
If you agree with the striking students, if you care about our children’s future, show your support by joining them today on the picket line. Then go check your elected officials’ climate math to make sure they understand the difference between addition and subtraction and that they are not failing this all important test.