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It’s time to act on climate change with carbon fees on fossil fuels

In this Aug. 7, 2018 photo, firefighters monitor a backfire while battling the Ranch Fire, part of the Mendocino Complex Fire near Ladoga, Calif. The years with the most acres burned by wildfires have some of the hottest temperatures, an Associated Press analysis of fire and weather data found. | AP Photo/Noah Berger

For decades, scientists have been warning us that climate change is likely to raise the risk and severity of wildfires. Climate deniers scoffed.

Now, as you reported (“It’s simple: Global warming worsens wildfires,” Aug. 19), scientists have enough hard data to add certainty to that prediction. The American West is burning up, wildfires are becoming increasingly worse due in large part to global warming, and scientists can now proudly announce that they have numbers.

Guess what? Climate deniers scoff more loudly than before.

Can we see a pattern here? We’ve known for 200 years that a buildup of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels throws off the energy balance of our world, but no amount of scientific evidence will convince those who have financial or ideological motives to reject it.

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Instead of more arguing, we need to simply act.

The only durable way to correct this imbalance is to put an honest price on carbon that reflects the damage caused by dumping CO2 into the atmosphere. If a carbon fee that rises annually is collected where coal, oil, or gas leave the ground, and that money is then recycled back to households in equal shares, basic economics tells us it will supercharge investment in climate-friendly alternatives and energy efficiency while protecting those with low and modest incomes from having to shoulder the burden of cleaning up our energy systems.

In spite of the Trump administration’s open hostility to climate policy, there are some in Congress — in both parties — who now realize that we’ve run out of time. Carbon pricing plans are getting quiet but serious consideration, and all Americans should be prepared to support them when the climate deniers launch their attacks — which they most certainly will.

Rick Knight, Research Coordinator, Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Where would we be without the press?

Thank you for your Aug. 15 editorial on the press. I am one of “the people” and I depend on my many newspapers to speak truth to power! Where would we be if not for investigative reporters doing their job of delving in, researching and seeking the truth? More people, and our planet, would be abused, exploited, killed, displaced, or destroyed.

I am a realist by nature and I choose to experience life, albeit with a steady dose of disillusionment and despair, with my eyes wide open. Thanks to “the free press,” we are able to perceive the world, with all its pain and suffering, with transparency, openness and honesty. And what a beautiful world it can be!

Susan Long, Wilbraham, Massachusetts

Illinois politics an abyss of corruption

Every time I read an article like Madeleine Doubek’s (“The games Illinois insiders play to keep you, the voter, outside,” Aug. 20) it makes me angry. Not only angry that Illinois has hopelessly sunken into the corruption abyss, but even more so that columnists continually shine the light on our failures, yet nothing ever gets done. Not by the voters who are tone deaf and keep electing the same self-serving career politicians. And certainly not by the incumbents themselves, who are too smitten with their own celebrity and ego to lift a finger. In most instances they dance around the edges of the law, not actually doing anything technically illegal, but taking advantage of a system that turns a blind eye to anyone with enough money and clout to keep themselves in power.

It’s shameful, and there is no end in sight. So thank you, Ms. Doubek, for shining the light, but the light unfortunately is not enough.

Scot Sinclair, Third Lake

Anyone but Rauner

Regarding Obama’s plug for Pritzker (August 21): As an adjunct instructor at Northeastern Illinois University, I was a witness to the havoc that Gov. Bruce Rauner has caused as the chief executive of Illinois.

Due to severe budget cuts, faculty and staff were impacted by unpaid furloughs, layoffs, the elimination of positions and bumping based on seniority. Some exceptional employees even moved out of state to escape the financial chaos.

What happened at Northeastern was replicated across the state in every educational institution, department, or agency that depended on state funding.

These public employees suffered stress, uncertainty, and financial hardship. For most of them, Barack Obama’s endorsement of J.B. Pritzker is another affirmation on why they would vote for anyone but the current governor.

Larry Vigon, Jefferson Park