Dear Climate Deniers, Meet California Scientists and Engineers with the Facts and Solutions to the Pollution

, former deputy director, Clean Vehicles | February 8, 2012, 10:47 am EDT
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A recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) from 16 scientists and engineers has gotten a lot of attention on our blog and elsewhere. The scientists and engineers basically urged candidates for public office to ignore the growing problem of climate change. But they are far from representative of the scientific and engineering communities. 

In fact, just last month, 161 scientists and engineers in California alone signed an open letter in support of the state’s efforts to reduce heat-trapping emissions from cars and trucks.  And these scientists and engineers are themselves just a representative sample of the broad consensus on climate science and the availability of solutions.

161 California scientists and engineers call for action in the state on clean cars and global warming. And they are but a sample of the broad consensus on the problem and the availability of solutions.

Denying the Facts Does Not Change Them

Peter Frumhoff, the chief scientist for our climate campaign, already cited a variety of resources in his blog post on the WSJ piece that set the record straight on climate science and the economics of addressing the problem. The California scientists and engineers relied on their own work as well as many of the same resources and boiled it down this way:

“The causes and risks of climate change are clear and well documented.”

“Cars, trucks, and other mobile sources account for nearly 40 percent of these [heat-trapping] emissions in California.”

“The longer we wait to bring down emissions, the harder and more costly it will be to limit climate change impacts and to adapt to those that cannot be avoided.”

“We already have the solutions and technology to start significantly reducing emissions.”

Solving the Problem Will Be Good for Public Health and the Economy

The letter from the California scientists and engineers was delivered to the California Air Resources Board (ARB) on the day before it unanimously voted to adopt strong global warming pollution standards, smog standards, electric car standards, and hydrogen infrastructure requirements. It was also delivered to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which are setting national standards that will cut heat-trapping emissions from new cars and light trucks in half by 2025.

California’s package of initiatives will save residents $22 billion through 2025, according to ARB analysis. By 2025, the program will create 21,000 new jobs across the state as consumers spend less on gasoline and shift that money to more productive parts of the economy. Individual consumers will save $4,000 over the life of the typical car sold in 2025, even after paying for clean car technology. The added cost of the technology improvements would be fully recovered from fuel savings within the first three years of owning the vehicle.

Ignoring the Problem Won’t Make it Go Away

At UCS we strongly believe that the scientists and engineers who wrote the WSJ piece have every right to state their personal opinions, but the facts simply are not on their side.

Making matters worse, the implications of following their advice to effectively ignore the problem of global warming are dangerous. Climate change threatens our health and our welfare, and you can already see the impacts around the nation and the world.

If we instead listen to the California scientists and engineers (and many others), if we face up to the facts on climate change and get moving on the solutions, we can get on a path to slow, and eventually stop, global warming while saving consumers and businesses a lot of money.

To learn more, check our our Climate 2030 Blueprint which demonstrates how Americans can save $464 billion in 2030 alone from smart solutions to climate change.

And if you are a scientist, engineer, or economist working on the problems and solutions associated with climate change, please lend your voice to the debate and sign up with us.

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  • That was Easy

    Californians must stop driving private vehicles. Also stop air conditioning buildings including homes. That is the only way to address the root problem.

    • Thanks That. Interestingly, Californian’s are already in the lead when it comes to finding alternatives to driving all the time–they drive about 9% less than the national average.

      I discussed this briefly in response to a similar comment from E. Gore, so I encourage you to check that out. I’ll blog more on the topic in the future, but basically, finding alternatives to being stuck alone in your car is a great way to cut down on global warming pollution, but it is also no silver bullet.

  • A very thoughtful and informative summary of some important information. Thank you for posting this. In my experience in making efforts to educate the public about climate change, I find there are generally three types of people: those who are already onboard and concerned about the issue, those who are going to deny it no matter what, and those who are on the fence and undecided but truly want to know the facts. Information like this helps to fill in the knowledge gaps in that third group. Just as it is for a politician with an upcoming election, the most important and realistic group to speak to on the issues is made up of the undecided.

    • Thanks Bradley. We’re reaching out to everyone in every way we can, but agree that a key part of the process is sharing the facts around the science, economics, and solutions surrounding climate change with that third group.