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Who’s going to pay for the hurricane calamity in Texas — and the next one?

Climate change didn't cause Tropical Storm Harvey, but it could explain recent catastrophic storms. (Aug. 31, 2017)

The Sun's Scott Dance dramatically stated that Harvey's rainfall in Houston could fill the Chesapeake Bay (Harvey rainfall, as much as Baltimore gets in a year, could fill Chesapeake Bay," Aug. 29)! It will take a heap of doing to get the inhabitants of Houston rolling again. Who's going to pay for that besides the local citizens? The rest of us are likely to, via taxes (FEMA, National Flood Insurance Program, etc.) and donations of time, materials and effort.

And what about the next time? Do we want to ignore the fact that the climate is getting warmer and wetter, thereby repeating this storm scenario or worse ones?

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It's undeniable that a warmer, wetter world plays a role in intensifying storms like Hurricane Harvey. Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, said "the main fuel for the storm" was warm water in the Gulf — as much as 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit above average.

Now is the time to tell our representatives that we need comprehensive legislation to shift the market away from the greenhouse gases causing climate change. Putting a price on carbon is the legislative move that matches the scale of the problem we face. A national carbon-pricing bill could require fossil fuel companies to pay a fee for every ton of carbon dioxide or equivalent emissions, thus encouraging companies to quickly turn to low- or no-carbon options. If all that fee revenue were returned equally to American households in the form of a dividend, studies show it would boost the economy and bring millions of jobs. (The dividend to each adult would likely be larger for those with lower incomes than the increased costs due to the carbon fee.) And of course, it would drive our emissions down and set us on a course to stabilizing our climate.

Threatened by the same scenario as Houston, Florida Republican Curbeleo and Democrat Deutch have formed the (now) 52-member, bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus to get serious about climate action. Elsewhere, The Climate Leadership Council, which is led by Republican statesmen James Baker, Henry Paulson, George Shultz and others, released "The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends" earlier this year, for pricing carbon and returning revenue to Americans. Citizens' Climate Lobby advocates a similar plan.

Let's not wait idly by to see how many more days of devastation our unstable climate will wreak on our country. Instead let's see how many more representatives in Congress and governors will step up.

Ed Mitchell, Gaithersburg

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