Climate change is an existential threat to our children, our grandchildren, and our very civilization. But passing modest, “Band-Aid” bills rather than promoting sweeping climate action with visionary change is insufficient.
The impacts of our warming planet are inextricably intertwined with all our other challenges. Climate change impacts the likelihood of future pandemics, climate-induced mass migrations, and battles over resources. It affects Maryland’s agricultural economy, the ability of our biodiversity to thrive, and the health of the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays. As Maryland already faces severe air quality issues, climate change further compromises public health. And we must not ignore the disproportionate environmental burdens faced by communities of color and communities with low incomes, who bear a disproportionate burden of cancer risk from air toxin exposure and are more likely to live in close proximity to toxin-releasing facilities like incinerators.
Maryland must increase our investment in the development of solar and offshore wind energy, stop allowing polluting and poisoning waste incinerators to be incentivized as a renewable resource, and create a real plan to address emissions. We must put ourselves on a path to 100% clean electricity that does not rely on burning fossil fuels. We simply cannot continue to perpetuate the status quo.
Ambitious climate action has the potential to accelerate economic growth and the creation of good green jobs. Maryland’s K-12 and higher education systems should help more of our young people prepare for jobs in electrification, weatherization, and renewable energy. We should provide robust support to Marylanders currently working in jobs dependent on fossil fuels to help them make the transition to a clean energy future and ensure that they can earn good wages and benefits. Maryland should prioritize investments in public transit, the infrastructure to support electric cars and buses (like charging stations), and smart regional planning to make walking and biking easier and safer.
Maryland must be far bolder, far more strategic, and far more aggressive in reducing and eliminating greenhouse gas emissions, drawing down excess greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, investing in green technology and infrastructure, and ensuring that the transformation of our economy is both equitable and just.