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Visitors take in the scenery from the wooden walkways at Midway Geyser Basin through the steam clouds around the colorful Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park. A climate change study published last month concluded America's national parks are warming up and drying out faster than other U.S. landscapes

The climate change train has left the station, is picking up speed and is accelerating toward a train wreck.

Damage from wildfires, hurricanes, floods, droughts and ocean warming because of climate change are already having long-lasting impacts on regional economies, cost enormous sums of money and are projected to get worse. As stated by scientists worldwide (including here in Nebraska), climate change poses significant risks to agriculture, the economy, the environment and the health of our citizens.

Today, only 18 percent of U.S. power is produced from renewable sources. We must do better as a nation by leading international efforts to obtain 80 percent of the world’s energy from renewable sources by 2035 and 100 percent by 2050. More than 100 U.S. cities have committed to meet these goals, and Congress must also act by drastically increasing our country’s investment in electric vehicles and large-scale renewable energy projects.

Congress must also increase investment in renewable energy research. We need better battery storage technology, more efficient solar and wind generation and increased carbon capture through improved agriculture and forestry management. There is even the possibility of developing new sources of energy such as nuclear fusion that have the potential to deliver unlimited amounts of clean energy.

Investment in renewable energy will help avoid worst-case climate change scenarios, diversify our energy supply, stimulate economic development and is projected to create millions of jobs in manufacturing, installation, and infrastructure. The alternative is to watch silently as the upcoming train wreck becomes more costly.

Thomas O'Connor, Lincoln

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