A new U.N. report confirms what the record-setting fires and smoky skies over much of America have been making clear for weeks — the world is hot and getting hotter, some of the damage is irreversible, and humans are going to suffer greatly as a result. It's difficult to read the news and not feel a fair amount of despair for the world our children are inheriting.
Despair can easily curdle into inaction, however. Things are bad, but we can and must still take action to ensure they don't get even worse. "Every bit of warming matters, and every bit of avoided warming matters," one expert told CNN.
So where do we start? Probably with Democrats' new $3.5 trillion budget proposal.
With passage of a bipartisan infrastructure bill seemingly assured, Senate Democrats officially introduced their budget resolution on Monday morning, which is expected to pass on a party-line vote. The proposal includes new money for health care and social spending, but the plan also includes important new provisions to mitigate climate change.
Among those measures: A mandate to increase the proportion of U.S. electricity produced with renewable energy sources, tax incentives for electric vehicles, spending on building weatherization projects and more. The release of the new U.N. report gives new impetus to these efforts: Scientists are sounding a "code red for humanity." Congress can't just walk away from that alarm, can they?
This, naturally, is where Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) comes in. He has already pronounced himself "very disturbed" by the proposal's call to reduce fossil fuels. "I know they have the climate portion in here, and I'm concerned about that," he said when the proposal was unveiled in July. Another moderate Democrat, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), has announced that the overall bill is too expensive for her to support in its current form. With the Senate split 50-50, the bill won't pass without their support.
That's not good enough. America can't solve climate change all by itself. (China, for example, has its own heavy lifting to do on the issue.) But the U.N. report is a clear signal that the Democrats' budget bill is just the beginning of what must be done.