It’s too late for a moderate approach to climate change

Elijah Helton, Opinions Columnist

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I’ve argued before that fighting climate change shouldn’t be a partisan debate. There’s plenty of reasons conservatives can get on board with a climate policy overhaul, including protecting agriculture and mitigating refugee crises. But the current Republican Party — led by the Trump administration — has made it clear that they’re not interested in doing anything to protect the environment.

Earlier this millenium, protecting the environment wasn’t a contested issue. In 2008, Newt Gingrich, a Republican and former Speaker of the House, appeared in a pro-climate ad with current Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Our country must take action to address climate change,” Gingrich said.

That sounds good, right? The party of deregulation and the fossil fuel industry must be coming around? No. Just three years later, Gingrich recanted his comments and called for the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Bipartisan agreement on the environment is becoming harder, not easier.

And because the United States hasn’t done enough to fight climate change in the past, future steps have to be necessarily more extreme. I don’t have space to go through all the different ways the climate crisis will and already has drastically affect life on Earth, but we are out of time. As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D, N.Y., tweeted Sunday, “Climate delayers aren’t much better than climate deniers. With either one if they get their way, we’re toast.”

The United States launches wars at the drop of a hat. The president declared emergencies over imagined immigration disasters. We send millions in aid the moment an actual disaster hits anywhere in the world. But when it comes to realistic solutions to save our planet, we’ve dragged our feet for so long that we’re at a complete standstill.

The oceans are rising. The forests are burning. The air is toxic. The sea is plastic. The end of life as we know it is already in motion. The time for incremental regulations and political bargaining is over. The time for real action is now.