Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Iowa state senator pushes for greater action on climate change in new book

Sen. Robert Hogg argues that the consequences of climate change will become worse until the public acts decisively.

By Joseph Cahill

Sen. Robert Hogg D-Cedar Rapids recently expanded his advocacy for climate change by writing a new book, “America’s Climate Century.”

“I’ve been involved in climate action and advocacy as early as 1989,” the Iowa state senator said. “This is a hard topic to cover in 20 or 30 minute speeches, so I wrote this book to help spread the word.”

Hogg said that unless climate change is addressed immediately, we will see progressively destructive results. Until decisive action is taken on a large scale to combat climate change, he explained, the damage will become increasingly severe.

The consequences of climate change are already emerging across the nation and right here in Iowa, Hogg said. He cited growing damage from natural disasters as evidence of this assertion.

“I personally do not believe the Flood of 2008 would have happened if it were not for climate change,” he said. “Another example is Hurricane Sandy; the federal cost for Hurricane Sandy was over $200 per American.”

Not only does climate change affect the weather and disasters, Hogg explained that it affects pocketbooks and many industries by raising insurance costs and hurting crop yields.
Floodwaters ravaged over 10 square miles of Cedar Rapids in the Flood of
2008. Sen. Robert Hogg blames climate change for much of the damage.

Hogg said that the answer to these economic disruptions and costs is not too different from the solution to solving the climate crisis.

“Climate change imposes cost, but the solution to climate change can free us from cost. We need to start making the transitions to clean and renewable energy sources as soon as possible.”

However, Hogg writes in “America’s Climate Century,” that some options, like nuclear energy, are a dead end when it comes to solving the climate crisis.

“The problem is, there are so many fossil fuels being used to mine and enrich the uranium, operate the plant and to manage the long term radioactive waste that nuclear power is not a viable option ... The answer is renewable energy: solar, wind, biomass and conserving instead of consuming.”

After encountering several skeptics himself, Hogs’ book includes an appendix, “Responding to Doubting Thomas.”

“I try to catalog some of the things you hear people say,” he said. “This may or may not work. We live in a free country and people are free to believe what they want, even if it is wrong.”

However, Hogg said, letting people ignore the effects of climate change is unacceptable.

“You can choose not to believe in climate change, but … the 71 year old man in New Hartford, Iowa still died in the floods last June,” he said. “So if we are not solving climate change, let’s deal with that.”

Whether you are a climate change skeptic, Hogg explained, should not matter when it comes to finding a solution.

“Even if you don’t believe in it, let’s still stop wasting energy and quit spending all of our dollars on fossil fuels,

Hogg said he is pleased with the effort Iowa has made to act against climate change, but still sees room for improvement.

“Our wind industry is good and our energy conservation and efficiency programs through our utilities are generally pretty good, but not perfect,” he explained. “If we saw bigger incentives at the state level, we could do even more.”

Changes in public policy, Hogg said, are critical to seeing progress in mitigating the effects of climate change.

“We need public policy to support climate action at all levels,” he said. The most important thing is to get engaged in advocacy of public policy that will address the problems,” Hogg said.

Over a thousand copies of America’s Climate Century have been sold, Hogg said, but future events will hopefully increase sales.

“I’ll be taking a tour of New Hampshire and some other New England states that I’m excited about, as well as traveling around the state of Iowa,” he said. “My goal is to sell a hundred thousand copies and be on the Colbert show.”

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