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Editorial: United front needed on climate change

Editorial: United front needed on climate change
This editorial represents the opinion of the Dispatch editorial board, which includes the publisher, editor, editorial page editor and editorial writers. Editorials, like opinion columns, represent a particular viewpoint and are not to be confused with news stories.

In a week in which the news seemed especially grim and mankind’s problems especially daunting, having three pragmatic politicians come to Westerville with a positive message — “We can do something about climate change” — was refreshing.

John Kerry, who served as Democratic U.S. senator from Massachusetts and secretary of state under President Barack Obama, is determined to bring together leaders in politics, science, the military, business and entertainment to convince the rest of us that tackling climate change is not only necessary but a tremendous opportunity.

He’s calling the effort World War Zero for the goal of transforming the economy into one with zero net carbon emissions. In bringing his pitch to central Ohio on Sunday, he was joined by former Gov. John Kasich and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — both Republicans and ideal partners for delivering a useful bipartisan message.

According to its website, World War Zero aims to use its “unique convening power” to enlist a coalition of leaders who can reach people receptive to the idea that building a lower-carbon economy could mean jobs in new industries, enhance national security and allow young people to take charge of improving the future.

If only they could get that message through to retrograde Republicans in the Ohio General Assembly who mostly are married to the fossil fuel and nuclear power lobbies and have done everything in their control not to encourage but to actually stymie the development of wind and solar power in the state.

Kasich’s record as governor on environmental matters hardly was perfect, and a heckler on Sunday slammed him for his continued support of fracking. But he resisted Republican lawmakers’ push to drill for oil and gas in state parks, and it’s fair to say his views on climate change have evolved — in February 2019 he declared publicly that Republicans should stop denying humans’ role in causing it.

California’s plan included getting a waiver from the U.S. EPA allowing it to set the nation’s strictest auto-emissions standards, a power the Trump administration is trying to rescind.

Kerry’s vision of a clean-power economic renaissance, as reported by Ohio Public Radio, is inspiring: “It’s an opportunity to build out new infrastructure in our country, to build a new grid for our energy, to take clean energy from one part of the country and send it to the other, to use artificial intelligence and quantum computing and put together a future that is different.”

What a project that could be, if Congress were to embrace it and if President Donald Trump were no longer in office to stand in the way. Instead of tax cuts for the rich that do little to stimulate the economy, resources could be applied where they could have much more effect — supporting scientific research that enables new industries, creates new jobs and helps reduce carbon emissions.

That’s a world war everyone can get behind.

Source:  Columbus Dispatch

By: Editorial Board

LINK: https://www.dispatch.com/opinion/20200312/editorial-united-front-needed-on-climate-change

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Kerry, Kasich and Schwarzenegger hosting climate town hall Sunday

With global carbon emissions hitting record highs and Ohio’s summer weather expected to become like Arkansas’, scientists say it’s more important than ever to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Former Govs. John Kasich of Ohio and Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and actor Erika Alexander will gather at a town-hall-style meeting Sunday at Otterbein University to talk about those and other climate threats.

“I don’t think we’re making the kind of progress we ought to make,” Kasich told The Dispatch ahead of the event. “I think people could come together and look at what’s happening in the world and debunk whatever theories are out there (of people) who say, ‘This is not a problem.”’

The event is hosted by the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization World War Zero, of which Kasich, Kerry and Schwarzenegger are founding members. The goal is to bring people of diverse backgrounds together to fight climate change. Nearly 100,000 people have pledged to be part of the campaign.

“It’s no different than promoting fitness. The more you talk about it, the more is going to happen. And the more you’re going to go and get everyone on board, but what we want to do is to really teach ordinary folks, what can they do to participate in this whole thing,” Schwarzenegger told The Dispatch. “This is what this town hall meeting is really about.”

The organization wants to mobilize Ohioans to tackle climate change in the same way that Americans rallied to fight and help win World War II. Sunday’s hosts plan to discuss the economic benefits of a net zero carbon economy, national security implications and how pollution harms health.

The meeting Sunday is the first of its kind in the country. Members of the organization plan to host similar meetings across the country throughout the year.

Ohio ranks sixth in carbon dioxide emissions, having released 204 million metric tons in 2017, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Ohio is also the third-largest consumer of coal, behind Texas and Indiana. However, Ohio’s emissions have been declining amid a growing shift from coal to natural gas.

The challenge is getting everyone on board to make changes.

President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, which has firm goals to reduce emissions in hopes of keeping the global temperature from rising even more.

When asked whether Ohio should be abiding by that standard, Kerry said: “We’ll talk about that Sunday.”

When The Dispatch asked Gov. Mike DeWine’s office in January about the alliance and the possibility of Ohio joining, a spokesman said: “There are no current plans regarding this.″

“Let’s just say that we have to have all-hands-on-deck urgency to solving this problem,” Kerry told The Dispatch. “If the federal government is not engaged proactively and positively, we’re not going to get the job done because we simply can’t move fast enough to do what we have to do.”

It’s not easy for leaders to move to renewables. Fossil fuel industries fund political campaigns. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, brought his star power to the office of governor and made an unwavering commitment to strengthen environmental standards.

“It takes leadership. It takes balls. It takes to be attacked by your own party. … You get attacked by the other party because you were not agreeing with them on everything either. And so, that’s what I did. I felt that this was my calling,” Schwarzenegger said. “I didn’t want to be the darling of the Republican Party. I wanted to be the servant of the people. I knew this was the right way to go.”

Even throughout Ohio, the symptoms of climate change are apparent. By midcentury, Ohio State University’s Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center predicts, central Ohio will warm by 3 to 5 degrees even if air pollution from greenhouse gas emissions is reduced. If emissions continue to increase, the rise in temperature could be 4 to 6 degrees.

The World War Zero forum at Otterbein University is near capacity. If you want to go, you can register on eventbrite. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. You also can watch a livestream of the forum from 2:30 to 4 p.m. by visiting the group’s Facebook page at facebook.com/WorldWarZeroOrg/

Anyone who wants to read more about the effort or join the campaign may visit worldwarzero.com.

bburger@dispatch.com

@ByBethBurger

LINK: https://www.dispatch.com/news/20200307/kerry-kasich-and-schwarzenegger-hosting-climate-town-hall-sunday

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