We’ve learned from the COVID-19 catastrophe that it’s important to listen to scientists and to prepare for emerging crises. As we celebrate Earth Week, I hope we will recognize the lessons learned and act with urgency regarding the existential threat of the climate crisis.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has sounded the alarm in a report about a vast array of effects that climate change is causing. The climate change reality means on average, a New Jersey homeowner will experience a severe 100-year storm at least once during the period of their 30-year mortgage, and the state has the potential to suffer major real estate losses.
In the United States, we continue to witness extreme weather events such as a major snowstorm in Texas, wildfires in California, and intense winds and thunderstorms in the Midwest. In the last five years, the U.S. has experienced more than $500 billion in losses directly from climate-fueled weather disasters. Yet, with all these challenges, I am more hopeful than ever. We’re in a unique moment where we have cooperation on the international, national, and state levels to take major action to mitigate the impacts of climate change and save the planet for future generations.
I applaud the Biden Administration’s decision to reenter the Paris Climate Agreement — and for hosting last week’s Global Climate Summit with world leaders, showcasing American leadership in a global crisis. New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has introduced The Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act. It is a comprehensive bill that would set national greenhouse gas reduction targets and establish a framework for reshaping the nation’s economy while pushing initiatives to boost public health and environmental justice.
Another reason I am hopeful is that we have Gov. Phil Murphy, who I believe is “America’s Greenest Governor,” keeping the environment a top priority in New Jersey. He published the 2019 Energy Master Plan that demonstrates New Jersey’s commitment to phasing out fossil fuels and embracing a rapid shift toward electrification.
Gov. Murphy also recently established the New Jersey Council on the Green Economy that can help generate good local union jobs that cannot be outsourced. These jobs will provide a living wage to sustain our middle-class and help create a prosperous future for all New Jerseyans. With this council he is directly dispelling a common myth that you can’t create jobs and protect the environment.
A Pew Research Center study shows that the majority of Americans want to see government action on climate change. Of course, none of our efforts to mitigate climate change will happen unless we all work together. So, during this Earth Week, let’s commit to saving the planet for our children and grandchildren by doing everything we can to reduce carbon emissions and co-pollutants and stopping climate change. I’m hopeful, and if we get this right, we’re going to have an incredible future.