An Earth Day Message
A week ago, the world watched as the iconic Notre Dame cathedral burned. For eight centuries, it has been a powerful symbol for many people, and already over a billion dollars have been pledged to rebuild the damaged building. The French president has vowed to complete this task in five years—an intimidating goal, but one that is entirely possible with enough will and resources.
While I am heartened by this response and the sense of urgency that accompanies it, I can’t help but think about how the United States should muster that same sense of collective will and responsibility to address some of the horrific environmental disasters we’ve experienced. Why are children still drinking lead-contaminated water in Flint, Michigan? Why are people still without clean drinking water in Puerto Rico? How much more political will, how much more urgency, how many more resources are needed to address those, and many other, environmental crises?
The elephant in the room here is the climate crisis. We are already feeling its impacts. Historic flooding in the Midwest. Record damage and costs associated with intensifying hurricanes and other climate-related natural disasters. Unprecedented numbers of climate refugees. Oceans warming and acidifying. Perilous interference with our food and water supplies. Serious and costly health impacts, especially for our most vulnerable populations.
Without political will, bold action, and serious investments, these disruptions will intensify. The consequences will be catastrophic.
On Earth Day, Congress must ask: where is our outrage at these tragedies? Where is our sense of urgency? Communities on the front lines of climate change and environmental degradation feel it—they bear some of the greatest costs. The next generation already feels it—they will be trapped on a potentially uninhabitable planet. People are waking up, and some leaders are taking action. But more must be done. We have 12 years to stop the worst impacts of a changing climate. This requires ambitious goals, and Congress needs to meet them with the intensity of a thousand Notre Dames.
Our planet should be sacred to us all. This is a mission that cannot faiI. Harnessing our awe, humility and compassion, we will protect future generations by acting now.
Member of Congress