Dear editor,

As tensions over the vulnerability of Saudi oil grow in the wake of an attack by the Houthi – Iranian alliance, drivers around the world recognize they have a personal stake in the outcome. Almost immediately both President Trump and Vice President Pence made it clear to the world that we have our fingers on the trigger and will pull it to protect the flow of oil.

But when almost every climate scientist and leaders around the planet exhort us to stop using oil, coal and gas if we want our children and grandchildren to have a livable planet, the idea of a bloody war over oil seems more than a little incongruous. To those who drive electric cars the idea seems more than incongruous, war over oil seems downright pointless. To think that more lives will be lost, more people will suffer all so that we can continue to drive headlong over the cliff of climate disaster leads to near total dismay. Truth is we no longer need oil.

In the United States, transportation is the number one source of the greenhouse gases that are juicing up the growing climate crisis. Earth’s ice melts away and slowly, but steadily raises the seas that are flooding coastal cities, inundating islanders and turning precious groundwater salty. As I sit here in southern Marathon County, our record-setting rains again soak the land, swell the streams and rivers and paint our lives with mildew. Fortunately, unlike much of the rest the country, we’ve had little serious flooding — yet. Meanwhile, the arctic has been aflame all summer long and people living much closer to the equator than we have begun to flee increasingly unbearable heat; bad enough now, but unless we act soon it only gets worse.

We, and especially our political leaders, must decide to leave the oil, coal and gas in the ground and dramatically expand our clean, renewable energy portfolio. Electric cars, as their owners know, are great.  Plugging in, instead of filling up at the pump, is clean, simple and convenient. China, and increasingly, cities around the world are turning to electric buses. Mowing the lawn with a lighter, quieter rechargeable electric lawnmower is a close as the local big box store. Were we to make the inevitable decision to quit oil, and thereby send a clear signal to our economy about where we are headed, the well of American innovation would transform our lives in ways we can hardly imagine today.

What is needed to inaugurate this clean, climate friendly, sensible and politically sane way of life? What do we need to avoid another war over oil? The answer is this, the political will to pass legislation that decisively increases the cost of oil, gas and coal and keeps raising the price until we adopt a way of life based on the carbon-free energy provided in abundance by our creator.

On the evening of Sept. 24, 2019, the members of the Wausau City Council stepped up and voted in favor of a resolution in support of state and federal action on climate change along these very lines. In so doing, Wausau bravely joins a steadily growing list of over a hundred cities and counties around Wisconsin and the rest of the country that recognize the danger we face. There are now five cities in our own 7th Congressional District who have done so. The pressure on our state and federal legislators to act ratchets up another notch.

While the members of the Council did not vote unanimously for climate action, we need to applaud the six who did. There are times when our leaders are called upon to act decisively on behalf of an uncertain constituency. This is certainly one of those times. The members of the local Rib Mountain – Marshfield chapter of the Citizen’s Climate Lobby applaud the loudest and are grateful to Mayor Mielke and the City Council. We hope the city of Wausau, the city we all know and love, now steps forward into the exciting world of renewable energy and sustainable technology. We will all reap the benefits.

Dan Barth, Citizen’s Climate Lobby, Rib Mountain – Marshfield Chapter

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