Charlie Benner: LaMalfa denies climate change while thousands of homes burn | TheUnion.com
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Charlie Benner: LaMalfa denies climate change while thousands of homes burn

In case you haven’t noticed, wildfires are getting bigger, stronger, and more frequent. The current record-breaking fires in California have scorched over three million acres and destroyed over four thousand homes — and it’s not over. Ninety-seven percent of the world’s scientists agree that the major cause of increased fires is global warming.

Our Congressman Doug LaMalfa still doesn’t want to believe them. He is a climate change denier. Droughts, floods, fires, and hurricanes keep getting worse every year. Six of the 20 largest wildfires in modern California history have occurred this year. The United States of America is now the only nation on earth that is not part of the fight against global warming. Time is running out.

At a 2017 town hall meeting, a year before the historic Camp Fire destroyed over 11,000 homes in the town of Paradise, Congressman LaMalfa said he “didn’t buy” the claim that climate change is man-made, “I think there’s a lot of bad science behind what people are calling global warming.”

In a 2016 poll of the local residents before that fire, only 35% believed that global warming would personally harm them. Perhaps losing their homes has changed their opinion.

President Trump has repeatedly called global warming “a hoax.” On a recent visit to California, state officials told him we can no longer ignore climate change science. He said, “I don’t think science knows, actually.”

Meanwhile, California burns.

LaMalfa remained silent when the president pulled out of a global treaty to combat climate change, and when he ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to roll back regulations allowing an increase in earth-destroying carbon emissions. Along with other Republican climate change deniers, LaMalfa represents a clear and present danger to our planet — and to our hometown.

Picture Grass Valley 10 years from now. You are standing among the ashes of what was once your home, remembering back to the days when Trump, the Republican Party, and all the climate change deniers called global warming a hoax. When they pulled the USA out of the Paris Climate Agreement and sabotaged the work of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Your children may be standing there in the ashes with you, asking what you did to fight back. Will you have to admit to them that you voted for the climate change denier Doug LaMalfa? That the hoax was on you?

Picture yourself wishing you had done more to take global warming seriously. We are running out of time, but it’s not too late.

I had been losing sleep dreaming about forest fires, wondering what I could do, when a flyer arrived in the mail. It was from LaMalfa’s Democratic opponent Audrey Denney.

There was a photo of peaceful mountains and a lake, with a picture of Audrey Denney, a young woman with a sunny smile. The flyer said: “Our district is filled with natural beauty, hard workers and friendly neighbors. Our district is being poisoned by corruption, lobbyist money, and a representative who does nothing. We deserve better. It’s time for integrity. Audrey Denney for Congress.”

Yes! I thought. Exactly what we need. And we need her right now.

Does anyone still doubt that special interest groups are continuing to pay off climate change deniers? Audrey Denny says she is for getting money out of politics. She pledges to overturn Citizens United; create campaign finance limits; and put an end to dark money PACs. She says she knows man-made global warming is very real. She will not take money and deny it.

Recently, climate change scientists warned that if drastic action isn’t taken within the next 10 years, global warming caused weather disasters will be with us forever. This coming November election can be a decisive turning point.

With rational and conscientious leadership, with an administration that believes in facts and science, we can move toward saving lives and saving the earth. We can bring this country back into alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement, back into alignment with our truest local, national, and global values.

If we don’t vote we are silent, which also means we are complicit. As Martin Luther King said, “Silence can turn you into an accomplice … we can no longer be indifferent.”

We must vote for change now. Before the fire reaches every doorstep.

Charlie Benner lives in Grass Valley.


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