To the Editor:
An open letter to Gov. Noem and South Dakota legislators:
Whether it is the catastrophic fires devastating Australia, the staggering loss of ice in Greenland, or the unprecedented rainfall and flooding here in South Dakota in 2019, the evidence that climate change is upon us is beyond dispute. Considering our national administration's dismissal of science and scientists, it has fallen on states and the general populace to take the steps necessary to mitigate the rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and preserve the very inhabitability of this planet.
Therefore, the Sierra Club of South Dakota, more than 1,700 members strong, urges the State of South Dakota and Gov. Noem to join the governors of 24 other states, including those of our neighbors in Montana and Minnesota, in the United States Climate Alliance. A fact sheet from this bipartisan coalition outlining their commitments and priorities is available online at the www.usclimatealliance.org website.
The fossil fuel industry has known for decades of the effects of climbing levels of carbon dioxide. Climate scientists and climate activists have been sounding alarms about rising sea levels, more severe storm events, and other dangers for many years. These warnings have largely gone unheeded, and while the time to act was long ago, every action that we take now can reduce the damage to come.
We believe that a very positive first step for South Dakota is to join this alliance. South Dakota would benefit from the coordination with the other member states to identify the working programs and policies already in place elsewhere. The fact sheet enumerates priority sectors and suggests actions, tool development, both financial and regulatory, and policy frameworks. Please take the time to read this document.
The next decade is critical. How we react to the signs we are seeing will determine the environment our children and all that follow will inherit. The United States must become the world leader in this effort, but for now, let us at least become a part of the nationwide collaboration of the states.
Mark Winegar, Chairman
South Dakota Sierra Club