U.S. needs to act on climate change

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"As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing and severe weather patterns are accelerating. These changes, coupled with other global dynamics, will devastate homes, land and infrastructure."

— 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, U.S. Department of Defense

The United States and Caribbean have experienced the terrible destruction caused by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. In South Asia, exceptionally heavy monsoon rains killed more than 1,400 people and left millions homeless.

Certainly, our first response must be to help the huge number of people who are in need. However, these tragic events also demonstrate the powerful forces that our carbon dioxide emissions have set in motion, and why it's necessary for the United States to take a leadership role regarding climate action.

One policy that should be considered is a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend program, which would reduce emissions while protecting the poor and the economy. The National Academy of Sciences also advocates putting a national price on carbon dioxide emissions as the most cost-effective way to address climate change.

Climate impacts are expected to increase substantially in the coming decades, and for the millions of people living in the most vulnerable communities, adaptation may not be possible. Although we can't stop earth's warming, rapid emissions reduction can limit how bad it will become. We have a moral obligation not to surrender the planet to climate change.