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Carbon-pricing our way to Paris

It is my experience in conversations with people on climate action that a sticking point in getting our country to act is uncertainty that other countries will act as well. A seemingly valid argument goes: “What good is it for us to reduce our emissions if we have no guarantee that others will do the same?”

Fair point.

This is why international negotiations, such as those of the recent climate summit in Poland are important. They seek solutions to a global coordination problem and make it so we all move in lock-step — in theory, anyway. In practice, it is hard to build political consensus among roughly 200 countries and also hard to make sure everyone stays engaged and honest.

There are other things we can do to enhance the odds of not only our own adherence to our Paris Agreement goals, but that of other nations as well. Just recently, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act dropped in Congress. One thing worth noticing about the bill is its co-sponsors: three Republicans and five Democrats. If that seems odd, get used to it. A growing number of legislators are seeing the sense in reaching across the aisle on climate change, thanks in large part to groups like the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (which has a chapter in Boulder).

Does political compromise mean a toothless bill? In this case, most resoundingly not. The carbon fee instantiated by the bill ramps up until emissions are reduced a whopping 90 percent below 2015 levels. It does this not through nitpicky government intervention, but through the power and innovation of the free market. A border-adjustable tariff applies the tax to imported carbon-intensive goods from abroad if and only if the exporting country does not have a similar measure of their own in place. The intent is to create a global domino effect, whereby the more countries that join the carbon-pricing coalition, the harder it is for other countries to stay out. We meet our Paris goals, they meet theirs, and the Earth is a happy place. Did I mention it has bipartisan support?

So add yours. Give Sen. Gardner or Sen. Bennet a call. Tell each you would like to patch them over to the other and get a similar bipartisan effort going in the Senate.

Daniel Palken, Boulder

Boulder is the ‘healthiest’ city

Boulder was ranked the healthiest city in America according to Business Insider, but at what cost? In this case, “healthiest” refers to physical health, meaning Boulder is the thinnest and most fit city. However, the University of Colorado has double the average eating disorders of students nationwide as reported in the Colorado Daily. Clearly, there is a disconnect between physical and mental health.

Today, people feel an added pressure to fit in with society’s standards. In a city deemed the healthiest in America, it is even easier to feel the need to alter one’s body in order to fit in. Unfortunately, men and women have gone to extreme and even dangerous measures to reach society’s expectations. Some people in Boulder are skipping meals, purging the food they did eat, and exercising to the point of exhaustion. Anorexia and bulimia often stem from these dangerous actions and are the most common disorders related to body image. Here in Boulder, they are even more prevalent. With twice the national average of eating disorders here at CU, can we honestly call ourselves the healthiest in the nation?

We need to create a positive body movement here in Boulder, supply professional help for those struggling with eating disorders, and take mental health as seriously as we do physical. It is important that everyone feels confident regardless of what they look like. A positive body movement would stop people from body shaming others and help everyone feel proud of what they look like. This movement is already prevalent on social media with girls as well as guys posting unedited pictures, skipping makeup for a selfie, and showing that you don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. Wardenburg Health Center has the resources to help those struggling with eating disorders, however, it is not well advertised, and many people are scared to seek treatment. By supporting those we know with eating disorders and spreading the word about the free resource for students, we will make a strong impact on the Boulder campus. Finally, it is crucial that society begins to take mental health as seriously as it does physical health. While being fit and toned is a goal of many people, so is confidence, happiness and belonging. We should not be putting looks above our own mental well-being. Until we make these changes, Boulder should not claim the title of the healthiest city in America.

Allie Glassman, Boulder

Population growth exacerbates climate change

We are already seeing the consequences of 1 degree C of global warming through more extreme weather, serious droughts, flooding, crazy wildfires, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice. The Trump administration denies that human activity has anything to do with changes in climate, while 97 percent of climate scientists think otherwise.

Major threads in this puzzle are CO2, methane, a number of refrigerants and nitrous oxide entering the atmosphere. These gasses trap heat, preventing it from radiating away from the Earth. There is no doubt about the science explaining this heat-trapping phenomenon. The first three gasses are directly related to our energy use and lifestyles in the affluent Western countries. Nitrous oxide and methane are associated with fertilizer use in agriculture, particularly meat production.

Now, what is missing? Population and population growth. More people means more energy use. More people means more animal agriculture producing more methane, and more nitrous oxide from more fertilizer. More people and warmer temperatures lead to the use of more heat-trapping refrigerants.

Everyone in countries such as the U.S. and richer European countries causes large amounts of heat-trapping gasses to enter the atmosphere. People in poor countries like Pakistan, Nigeria and Haiti also cause heat-trapping gases but at far lower per capita output.

The bottom line is that those of reproductive age should be thinking seriously about our impact on climate chaos due to our family size choices. Our children and grandchildren will be hit hard by our lazy ways in this matter. So will we.

Tom Moore, Boulder