Letter to Editor: Our Environment and Federal Legislative Options

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Projections for sea level rise over the next two decades indicate that Rock Hall is the most economically vulnerable in Kent County. According to the Army Corps of Engineers, sea level rise in Rock Hall – known for its waterman heritage and as a relaxing destination for eastern shore tourists — will increase by over 6 inches in the next 15 years. This map shows us that most of Rock Hall Ave up to N. Hawthorne Ave. will be underwater in 2034. This estimate does not include rain from strong storms such as Hurricane Isabel.

Why? The level of heat trapping gases in our atmosphere now (C02 among them, caused by the burning of fossil fuels) are warming our earth, and that is causing severe changes to our climate globally which is affecting us locally. A group of volunteer international scientists making up the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change delivered a report which recommends a 50% reduction of greenhouse gases in 12 years to avoid the demise of civilization as we know it. This may sound extreme, but there is a scientific consensus according to NASA: 97% of scientists are convinced, global warming is real, caused by an increase in greenhouse gases, and human activity is causing this increase.

It has gotten to the point where we can already see it happening around us. Data scientists from First Street Foundation and Columbia University have done peer-reviewed housing market research and found coastal properties in Maryland are losing $555.7 million in relative appreciation, a decrease in property value due to shore line erosion.

We are volunteering for Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) because this climate crisis is the biggest challenge facing humanity today. CCL Chestertown and Kent and Queen Anne’s Indivisible are co-hosting a public panel discussion on June 1, at the Kent County Public Library from 12:30- 2:30 pm in Chestertown. It will focus on proposed Federal legislation and other solutions in order to help Kent County citizens understand what they can do to act on this problem.

For example, there is a bipartisan bill which has been introduced in the House of Representatives called the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act which places an increasing fee at the point of fossil fuel extraction and returns all revenue neutrally back to households. It does not take money from government nor does it give money to government.
This market signal should create an innovative environment to find alternative energy sources. Both Democrat and Republican leaders support this kind of legislation as an immediate way to reduce the carbon emissions that are changing our climate. The bottom line is, we need to tell our members of Congress what we think should be done about this crisis.

The Climate Leadership Council has put out a statement signed by 3,000 US Economists including four former Chairs of the Federal Reserve who support this kind of legislation. One of those economists, Dr. Adalbert Meyer, Associate Professor of Economics and Chair of the Department of Economics at Washington College will be on the panel for our discussion.

Additional local perspectives will be provided by Greg Farley, the Director of Sustainability at Washington College; Nick DiPasquale, the Policy Advisor for Shore Rivers; and Scott Budden, President of Orchard Point Oysters Co. We will also be looking at other proposals such as the Healthy Families and Security Act of 2019, introduced by Senator Van Hollen; and the Clean Energy for America Act, co-sponsored by Senator Ben Cardin. A representative from Congressman Andy Harris’s office will be at the event to listen and learn.

The panel is free and open to the public. We hope you will join us for this robust discussion to develop the political will we need to change the tides of our future.

Hope Clark, Chestertown
Cora Dickson, Rock Hall

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Letters to Editor

  1. Thank you for this timely and somewhat science-based contribution. I must admonish you for exaggeration of saying that “most of Rock Hall Ave up to N. Hawthorne Ave. will be underwater in 2034”. The very noteworthy map you provide clearly states that it shows the water levels of the annuals highest tide, during which much of the eastern portion of Rock Hall will be flooded…until the tide recedes. Clearly stated facts are much more powerful than overstatements. That said the map does speak loudly.

    It is sadly interesting that in the recent mayoral discussion at the Rock Hall VFD the three candidates for mayor equally stumbled on the question of what they would do about rising sea levels. I didn’t expect them to be proposing long-term solutions to greenhouse gas emissions but I did, and still do, expect them to be informed on the topic and be able to discuss local options. (Please, no seawalls)

    Perhaps our new mayor will attend the Chestertown meetings or at least make an effort to become informed on the subject.

    • Cora Dickson says

      Thank you for the clarification.

      By the way I was the person who asked that question at the forum (though it was to the Council candidates not the mayoral candidates). I was also disappointed in the responses. A strong commitment to study the issue, ask experts, and make long term plans for the sake of future generations was what I hoped to hear. Rock Hall is dealing with a budget crisis among other things but it’s important to plan ahead.

  2. Sabrina Fu says

    Economists from wide range of political background agree that the cost of doing nothing is so much greater than the cost of doing something to address climate change. Even better than the cost of doing something like regulations is the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. It is revenue neutral — it costs the government nothing and it gives no money to the government. It also grows our economy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% in 12 years. All this makes it bipartisan. All we need is the will to get something big done together. Please join us in creating the will for a livable world.

  3. Chris Wiegard says

    Dear Editor-
    I read with great interest Hope Clark’s recent letter on climate change, sea level rise, and workable legislative solutions (“Our environment and Federal Legislative options”). As a graduate of Washington College in 1978, and as a fellow volunteer with Citizens Climate Lobby, I share Clark’s conviction that reducing carbon emissions is the best road to slowing sea level rise. Too many of us have bought into the silly idea that we cannot live without fossil fuels, and that we therefore must build lots of sea walls. Solar, wind, and nuclear are all realistic ways of producing electricity. Too many of us also think that we will not be able to afford such energy sources. The truth is that our grandchildren can not afford for us to stick with fossil fuels. The truth is that H.R. 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, would actually improve the finances of most American Families while putting a price on pollution that would reduce carbon emissions by 40% in only 12 years. The truth is that we do not need to destroy capitalism to survive climate change; on the contrary, correcting the market failure of polluters having free access to the sky as a carbon dump will permit capitalism to fight climate change more effectively than any other means would accomplish.

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