On climate, follow votes up with dialogue

Kimia Rejai’s Oct. 8 letter calling for pro-climate votes is a timely one, as evidenced by the recent IPCC report urging expedient action on climate change. Part of the solution is encouraging voters to look carefully at the climate issue and vote with it in mind. However, in our current political climate, that may not be enough. Because of political polarization, views of voters and politicians alike on climate change seem to correlate dramatically with views on abortion, gun rights, immigration and a host of other seemingly unrelated issues.

If you, like me, find these correlations strange, then perhaps you will agree that a complimentary piece of the puzzle will be unsticking the climate issue from 2018’s political glue. The case for doing this is a simple one: it’s no simple task to get voters to change their minds on their entire identity; it is by comparison easier to convince voters that their sincerely held ideology better fits a more nuanced stance on a single issue. Climate change is particularly well-poised to be that issue.

In 2018, the House of Representatives in Washington passed a nonbinding resolution against a carbon tax. The resolution had 48 Republican co-sponsors. In 2016, the same resolution passed with 82. Moreover, in 2016, zero Republicans voted against the resolution. In 2018, six did. It’s a modest change, but it cuts directly against the narrative of increasing division in America. Compound this with differences across age in views on climate among the Republican voter base, and a coherent picture starts to form: both sides of the aisle do to a significant degree acknowledge the problem of climate change.

Now it’s time to bring both sides into discussions on solutions. But that will only happen if we treat each other with respect. So even if environmentalists do not win November’s races, there is still much that we can do. For now, call up Senators Bennet and Gardner and ask them if they will support a middle-of-the-road solution to climate change. A carbon fee and dividend policy such as that promoted by the Citizens Climate Lobby is an excellent candidate. And whoever wins the November congressional race in District 2: call them as well.

Daniel Palken, University of Colorado student and research assistant, Boulder

Speak up to save free speech

New rules on the use of public spaces proposed by the Trump administration and Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke pose a grave danger to this country’s most precious free speech rights and must be stopped. The public comment period for the regulations ends Oct. 15 and people around the country are writing in to voice their opposition by going to justiceonline.org/save_free_speech.

The proposed regulations impose steep fees and costs on demonstrations in Washington, D.C.; effectively ban protests on the White House sidewalks; force protesters to pay the costs of barricades erected at police discretion, park ranger wages and overtime, and harm to grass from standing on it; create waiting periods removing any obligation of the government to promptly process or approve permits; restrict and suppress spontaneous demonstrations that respond to breaking events; create hair-triggers allowing police to end protests for the most minor of issues; restrict sound and staging; ban long-term vigils or protest presences; make protesters pay for expensive “turf covers,” among many other radical restrictions of free speech rights.

These changes will affect all parkland under the National Park Service in the nation’s capital including the National Mall, Lafayette Park, the White House Sidewalk, Lincoln Memorial, the Ellipse, Freedom Plaza, and the sidewalks and parkland along Pennsylvania Avenue — including the sidewalk in front of the Trump Hotel.

This is a dangerous anti-democratic proposal. If enacted, this will mark the end of free speech as we know it and will be a dystopian model that spreads across the county.

Karyn Weller-Coffman, Morrison

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