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Boiling Point

Millions of Americans will visit our magnificent forests and waterways over the summer engaged in hiking, rafting, fishing, and camping. This is coincidentally at a time that we are in full crisis mode as the Pacific Northwest bakes in an extremely dangerous heat wave. Humans are suffering and dying. Infrastructure is severely strained as roads are buckling while power cables are melting.

This follows an extreme episode in the already notoriously arid southwest where a 20-year mega drought continues with expectations that it will get worse.

Global warming trends are a significant contributor to the precarious situation we face. The parched soil is not able to help absorb the heat and temperatures rise. Global warming is costing us and will continue to do so in the future unless we act with massive ferocity.

If we do not rise to this challenge, the impact is difficult to fathom. Many studies substantiate that that cost of doing nothing is roughly $150 trillion due to exacerbated flooding, severe drought, and more frequent wildfires. These wildfires have negative impact long after the fire is put out including damaging erosion and heavy sediment into our waterways.

Global warming has been politicized but remains a highly economic dynamic impacting the poor to a major degree and all of us to a large degree. Solving this will cost money and human capital but given the negative continued and projected outcomes, it seems reasonable to explore the investment needed to stem this tide.

The cost estimates from major investment houses to the International Monetary Fund range from $300 billion to $50 trillion over the next two decades. That seems like a good investment overall for robust human health and to foster a sustainable economy that is less susceptible to the wrath of climate change.

Technological advances in energy efficiency, carbon capture need to be met with massive forest health initiatives and regenerative soil programs. The intersection of positive human ingenuity and natural asset utilization are essential.

A piece of legislation named the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act has the potential to move the needle in favor of a more equitable forward-looking economy.

It basically would price and tax carbon at the source of production across industry globally, encouraging companies to innovate into less carbon intensive production fostering a healthier future with less damage to our life producing natural assets. And it would return real capital to all Americans most notably at the lower- and middle-income strata.

We are truly at a tipping point and our collaborative decisions will determine if we are ready to vote for dynamic positive legislation and to invest capital for a new era.

Tom Koehler

Sustainable Hiker

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