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Washington and the associated media are all abuzz with the prospect of passing a $1+ Trillion bipartisan infrastructure package as early as tomorrow, and perhaps an even larger infrastructure plan passed through reconciliation by next week if Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is to be believed. All that is, of course, big news, if it actually comes to pass. The dysfunction of our federal legislative branch makes any significant bill, especially one that doesn’t purely benefit the wealthy, a noteworthy event.

While fawning coverage of bipartisan negotiating, and avid speculation may have consumed much of our political class’s attention, this was not the biggest story of the past week, and we misplace our attention at our own peril. On Friday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released it’s long-awaited 6th assessment on the state of the global climate crisis.

Some might remember that in 2018 the IPCC released a preliminary report warning that only 12 years remained before the window closed on keeping warming below 1.5 Celsius. That sneak-preview seemed shocking enough to spark a sea-change in environmental consciousness. Greta Thunberg started protesting, the Sunrise movement came to prominence, and a Green New Deal was suddenly being discussed in the halls of power. Now there are nine years, and we can look at the full report.

The news is not pretty. In fact, it is down-right scary. Nearly every variable, from temperature to sea-level rise, to glacial retreat, to heat waves, to other extreme weather etc. have changed at the upper end of previous predictions. In all but the most aggressive mitigation scenarios we are expected to sail well past 2C warming by the end, if not the middle of the century! These changes to the climate aren’t linear either, with each incremental increase in temperature resulting in often exponential increases to extreme events, and/or natural tipping points.

And, as the IPCC report points out, “many changes due to past and future greenhouse gas emissions are irreversible for centuries to millennia.” In other words, if we miss the opportunity to deal with these crises, future generations will be powerless to prevent the literal rising tides.

At DSOT we’ve discussed on over a dozen occasions, just how thoroughly the American people want their government to take bold, aggressive, and even costly efforts to tackle the climate crisis. They support carbon taxes, investments in renewable energy, and a variety of other environmental protection efforts. Americans understand that the climate crisis is real and moreover, is something that can only be addressed effectively through collective action, most often realized as government intervention. Government intervention, the IPCC report notes, that has been sorely lacking.

The current infrastructure negotiations obviously intersect with the latest findings from the IPCC. Tackling the climate crisis, means rebuilding our society and its infrastructure into a sustainable and regenerative economy. Now is the moment to make the change and invest in a sustainable and efficient future! The window of opportunity to take meaningful action is closing, both from a physical perspective, but also, tragically from a political one. The current infrastructure will likely lock in our path through 2030, at which point, action will mean far less than it does today.

We must get this right! We cannot allow this moment to pass us by. The science is clear, the people are clear, even the economics are clearly on the side of aggressive climate action. The bipartisan infrastructure bill is clearly insufficient in both magnitude and focus. It remains to be seen, what climate provisions survive the potential reconciliation portion of the package. We must demand that our politicians rise to meet this moment and invest boldly in the future. Make your voices heard, so that those representatives who lack the courage to take the hard votes know you are watching and have their backs. And for the many politicians to whom donor money is more precious than life, join us each Tuesday as we create an economic cudgel to proverbially beat these politicians and their masters into submission! Together we can create a society that chooses life and sustainability, not death and catastrophe!

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