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By Larry Kramer, San Juan Capistrano

As another Earth Day on Sunday, April 22, approaches, we see that Mother Nature is not in a celebratory mood. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Last year, three hurricanes made more intense and destructive-by-climate change and caused an estimated $265 billion in damage. In California, drought and heat fueled the state’s worst year for wildfires, burning an area the size of Delaware and destroying 10,800 structures.

The question is no longer whether climate change will affect our lives, but rather how bad things will get and how soon it will happen. Avoiding the worst effects depends on how rapidly we can reduce the carbon pollution produced from the burning of coal, oil and gas.

Action on climate change is lacking.

Unfortunately, the United States, one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, has made scant progress in reducing the risks of climate change. Congress came close to passing comprehensive climate legislation when the House of Representatives passed a carbon cap-and-trade bill in 2009, but the legislation died in the Senate. Since then, climate change has become an extremely partisan issue, making the passage of effective policies all but impossible.

Hope for congressional action, however, was rekindled in early 2016 with the formation of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the House of Representatives. Two Florida congressmen—Republican Carlos Curbelo and Democrat Ted Deutch—came together with a radical idea. What if we created a judgment-free zone where Democrats and Republicans could get together and have civil, informed conversations about climate change with the aim of finding common ground for effective solutions?

With that, the Climate Solutions Caucus came into being. In order to be truly bipartisan, Curbelo and Deutch decided the caucus would have equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats. A member of Congress joining the caucus must have a member from the other party joining with them. Today, the caucus has 72 members — half Republicans, half Democrats.

Having shown a willingness to work across the aisle on climate solutions, by being one of the first Republicans in California to join the Caucus, it’s time for Rep. Darrell Issa to take the next step and sponsor Carbon Fee and Dividend legislation. What a great legacy to mark his time in Congress.

Earth Day should remind us all, regardless of party affiliation, that we are entrusted with the care and protection of this beautiful, life-sustaining world. The best thing we can do at this time is to put a price on carbon and for each of us to take action to reduce our use of carbon-based fuels.

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