Cutting carbon pollution will help us all keep our heads above water

It’s shocking to realize that, by the end of the century, seas swollen by climate change could swallow over 60,000 Maryland homes (“Rising sea levels threaten $19 billion in real estate across Maryland, study says," Oct. 28). But more worrisome is the fact that estimates of sea-level rise are themselves rising.

Zillow’s analysis calculated real-estate losses under 6 feet of sea-level rise. Five years ago, this represented the “extreme” scenario for sea-level rise. However, polar ice sheets are deteriorating so rapidly that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had to revise its predictions, and now the “extreme” scenario is 8 feet. This worsening forecast tells us something: We need to step up our climate game — and fast.The plan to strengthen the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a positive step in that direction, but RGGI only reduces carbon emissions within the electricity sector. Maryland and other RGGI states could complement this strategy with a fee on carbon pollution in other sectors, such as transportation and heating.

Returning the bulk of this revenue to households will protect lower-income families from higher fossil-fuel prices as we incentivize the switch to clean energy. These carbon dividends will help keep our heads above water — as we act to keep our houses above water.

Leila Z. Hadj-Chikh, Baltimore

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