I am one of the millions of Americans whose family came to the U.S. with two suitcases and debt for their safe passage into the U.S. Fast forward a few decades and you see they have fulfilled the American Dream: From qualifying for free school lunch to having very well educated professionals living in well-off suburban homes throughout the nation.
Like many immigrants, I am very thankful to the U.S. for providing the infrastructure for my family to succeed, and I am reluctant to criticize. But then I emphasize the need for constructive criticism to my students, and part of constructive criticism includes suggestions for possible solutions and willingness to converse. So I am trying to practice what I preach.
As a trained scientist, I have examined and thought about the issue of climate change, first for the scientific evidence, and then from the social and economic issues that are intricately tied into this complex problem. For decades, I modified my own behavior to become less dependent on fossil fuel, but I did not speak out due to a lack of viable solutions I could see. Recently, I have seen evidence of a viable solution, a carbon fee with 100 percent of the proceeds equally divided among all households in the U.S. in the form of a dividend. That is, a fee placed on sources of carbon dioxide (such as oil fields and coal mines) with the money equally distributed to the people so that the rising cost of goods does not overburden the poor and middle class.
With a carbon fee (set to increase every year as part of a market signal) and a 100 percent dividend, a student would receive the same amount back as a millionaire, hence empowering the student and the market to find ways to make goods and services with less carbon dioxide emissions. This is a solution that would enable us to move into a 21st century economy based upon innovative technologies and allow us to train our own people to be part of this new economy. A carbon fee would provide the market signal for Americans to begin their own solar and wind companies instead of hiring foreigners to build our offshore wind projects (as we are doing in Maryland).
So tomorrow, I am getting on a bus with strangers, enduring crowds and long lines and waits to make a statement that we need to have policies to address climate change! But those policies can have a positive impact in creating jobs and moving toward a 21st century economy. We just need to take the time to learn, listen, discuss, and be willing to take action. Hopefully, the People's Climate March will be part of this change toward a 21st century economy.
Sabrina S. Fu, Ellicott City
The writer teaches science and environmental management classes at UMUC and volunteers in Howard County for watershed stewardship, Steam Clean and Frog Watch.
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