You’ve heard about the canary in the coal mine? Miners used to employ a wide variety of tools to keep tabs on the presence of dangerous gases underground, like methane and carbon monoxide. One of the most popular methods used was a caged, live canary, tied to the lead miner. The person behind watched closely to raise the evacuation alarm if the canary fell off its perch.
Like the miners, we know that birds are extremely sensitive to changes in the environment. Scientists with the National Audubon Society have found that of the nearly 600 bird species that call North America home, over half are already threatened by climate change.
When my children were little, they used to spend hours helping their grandfather feed and watch hummingbirds. As I learned more about how climate change was threatening the very existence of these beautiful creatures, I understood the profound obligation we have to take swift action, on behalf of the birds, certainly, but more importantly for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren.
While our elected politicians dither on what to do about climate change, there is a policy prescription that economists, environmentalists, and scientists all agree will make a huge difference: putting an effective price on carbon emissions.
Thanks to a grassroots effort across the State of Washington, voters will have a chance in just a few weeks to consider the nation’s very first tax on carbon, Initiative 732. It is modeled after British Columbia’s successful carbon tax policy, which was implemented in 2008 and dramatically decreased fossil fuel use, even as the BC economy continued to outpace the rest of Canada.
The policy is simple. I-732 is a tax swap, which means it won’t make our tax system bigger or smaller. Instead, it puts a price on dirty fossil fuels, but not on clean energy, and turns that revenue into tax relief for individuals, working families, and businesses in the state.
The Sightline Institute, an independent sustainability think tank, has said it “will put wind in the sails of Washington’s clean energy economy as nothing else possible.” The policy is so simple, in fact, that we think it could become a model for the rest of the country. Though it is difficult, if not nearly impossible, to get voters of either party to agree on much these days, I-732 has attracted broad bipartisan support.
While more than 20 percent of voters are still undecided about whether they’ll support the initiative, our polling suggests that those who receive an explanation of how the initiative works are far more likely to support it. Most interesting, I think, is that educated women across the political spectrum are the most likely to go from undecided to supportive.
Right now, the Yes on I-732 campaign is in the middle of the biggest voter education effort the state has ever seen, with a goal of reaching one million voters by Election Day.
Even if you’re not a Washington State resident, I hope you’ll join Audubon Washington in supporting this important effort and reaching the women we know can make a difference in this election. You can also help by making a donation directly to the campaign or volunteering to help call registered voters to let them know about this important initiative.
The world is warming at an alarming rate, and we need to listen to what the birds and our children are telling us. The climate won’t wait. We all have a moral responsibility to focus on carbon reduction now to protect our children and future generations by tackling climate change now, and leaving them a cleaner, healthier, safer world.
Gail Gatton is Executive Director of Audubon Washington. She has over 25 years’ experience ranging from high school education to conservation policy work. Gail spent eight years working as an environmental policy consultant for the firm of Ross & Associates and 15 years in Alaska included working for a variety of political and environmental organizations and serving on the boards of several organizations, including the ACLU.
I am supporting I-732 because it shows that grassroots campaigns can lead the nation in fighting climate change. We have to start somewhere, and Washington state is tackling the biggest fight of our lives. Visit yeson732.org
We need to take action on climate change – there just isn’t time for more delay, dithering, and infighting. I’ve worked hard to pass this initiative and I’m encouraging everyone I know to vote yes on I-732!
I-732 represents the greatest opportunity we have to protect our birds from the worst impacts of climate change. That’s an easy yes from me on I-732!
Putting an effective tax on carbon price on emissions is the single most important thing we can do to reverse the warming of our world. If passed, I-732 will be the strongest climate policy in North America that will serve as a successful model for other states and countries to follow. Opponents call the policy a false promise, but all they offer in exchange is a false choice.
I-732 is a huge step in the right direction for combatting climate change. I’m proud that Washington is leading the charge and I fully support it!
I believe that this could be the first step in a successful recovery from the disastrous effects of climate change. We can do it!
This is a great article about an issue that is very close to home~~for all of us, you could say! It’s great to see young leaders taking steps toward meaningful and impactful policy change.
I-732 is the most effective way for us to fight climate change in a sustainable, equitable way. Washington voters have a chance to be national leaders on climate change policy, and we need to take it now!
Finally an easy way for us to fight climate change, and hit other areas as well! Voting yes!!
Just do it. Just say YES to I-732!
This is the only climate change measure on this ballot. The choice is yes or no…
What will you do with your one and precious vote?
Everyone please vote Yes on I-732! Do it for the birds! And the future of the planet!