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Mayors, Secretary Paulson share views on world climate crisis

A former banker and U.S. Treasury Secretary is urging the nation, and fellow Republicans in particular, to recognize the gravity of economic risks and damage from climate change.
In a New York Times opinion piece on June 23, Henry Paulson notes that the cost of protecting just one coastal city — New York — from rising seas and storm surges will be “at least $20 billion initially, and eventually far more.”
Appealing to our common responsibility to the present and future generations, he proposes the following solution.
Based on market forces, our national policy should put a price on carbon.
In America, a country that can innovate like no other, Paulson suggests, further development of clean-energy technologies would result and greenhouse gases rapidly go down, these being now so high as to risk driving climate change to a self-feeding, potentially irreversible and catastrophic level.
The same day in Dallas, hundreds of city mayors were meeting to “renew their longstanding commitment to fight climate change.”
Each of them is actively working to lower emissions in their respective, local operations.
Nationally, more than 1,000 cities participate in this endeavor, the Climate Protection Agreement, including more than 20 in Tennessee.
Many can point to encouraging and sometimes impressive achievements in carbon reduction.
The town of Gresham, in Oregon, for example, now has its wastewater treatment system powered entirely by on-site renewable, pollution-free power.
For their city areas, as Paulson does for the nation as a whole, the mayors promote practical solutions.
Some of the efforts that have been successful in other areas have a Jonesborough ring to them.
They include maintaining healthy urban forests, promoting tree planting to increase shading and absorb CO2, making energy efficiency and resilience a priority, retrofitting city facilities with energy efficient lighting, and other actions.
The mayors seek to inventory their city operations’ emissions from fossil fuels “using established metrics,” a good idea since one can only manage well what one measures.
Other solutions, such as adopting and enforcing land-use policies that reduce sprawl and preserve open space work to enhance the quality of life for residents and reduce pollution-related illnesses.
In adopting sustainable practices as broadly as possible — moving from waste to reuse and from fossil fuels to alternative fuels, for example — they indicate finding themselves “boosting our economies and protecting our climate at the same time.”
With destruction and great costs to communities already occurring through extreme weather events, the mayors this year adopted needed revisions to the agreement.
These include preparedness policies, building and infrastructure adaptations, and disaster response systems for more and likely worsening weather on the heating planet.
Paulson addresses the members of his party directly.
“Republicans must not shrink from this issue,” he urges, since risk management and preserving our natural environment for future generations are conservative principles and his party is, “after all, the party of Teddy Roosevelt.”
Indeed, his appeal for speedy acceptance of climate-change realities and a market-based response seems like a reverberation of Teddy’s admonishment that “an unpleasant truth is a much safer companion than even the pleasantest falsehood.”