Why I’m running against Joe Kennedy

It's time to make climate change history

IT’S TIME TO choose: Will we accept the change needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change or cling to the status quo and hope against hope we’ll be spared? The good news is we can reverse climate change, grow our economy, and improve food quality, all at the same time. This change is possible, but not without change in Congress. That’s why I am challenging Rep. Joseph Kennedy III in the Democratic primary on September 4th for the opportunity to represent the Massachusetts Fourth Congressional District in the US House of Representatives.

Earth’s atmosphere has warmed as we have added carbon dioxide to it by burning fossil fuels. This warming has affected our weather, oceans, and great ice sheets, but so slowly that governments did not feel compelled to act until the Paris Climate Accord was agreed to in 2015. In addition to the Accord, coalitions formed to advance two strategies capable of mitigating the effects of climate change.

The Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition encourages countries to put a price on CO2 emissions to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and increase use of renewable energy. Economic studies conclude if governments implement the CO2 price by putting a fee on fossil fuels and returning fee revenue to households, economic growth accelerates. One study by Regional Economic Models Inc. examined a federal policy that would put a gradually rising fee on fossil fuels and return 100 percent of fee revenues equally to all households. The study concluded that greenhouse gas emissions would fall, three million new jobs would be created, annual GDP growth would be $80 billion higher, there would be 225,000 fewer premature deaths, and household incomes would increase. Remember, people and businesses changed their habits when gas went to $4 per gallon in 2008. Commuters started riding bikes, carpooling, or taking mass transit. Car companies started building more fuel-efficient cars. Imagine similar changes if a fee on fossil fuels were implemented.

Equally important, the 4 per 1000 Coalition encourages the use of photosynthesis to draw carbon out of the atmosphere and put it back into soil—the same process that created fossil fuels in the first place. Naturalist Allan Savory learned how to manage grazing cattle to promote photosynthesis, and he demonstrated that it’s possible to regrow tall grasses in semi-arid regions by this method. Since grasses put down deep roots and promote proliferation of microbes, fungi, and worms, Savory’s approach turns rangeland into a carbon sponge that can sequester about a ton of carbon per acre per year; if it were applied on rangelands throughout the US, enough carbon would be sequestered to offset our nation’s emissions of CO2. If we applied this practice to billions of acres of degraded and desertified areas worldwide, we would draw down more CO2 than the world’s nations generate, we’d reduce atmospheric CO2 every year, and there’d be plenty of grass-fed beef!

If we implement a carbon price and photosynthesis-based carbon drawdown, we can return the atmospheric CO2 concentration to pre-industrial levels, essentially reversing climate change.

In 1961, JFK called for putting a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth by the end of the decade. This year, America should dedicate itself to a second “moonshot” to return our atmosphere to its original condition by the middle of this century. If we implement a carbon price and return all revenue equally to households, private investors, entrepreneurs, and innovators will lead the way to a fossil-fuel-free future, and individuals and families will benefit. And if they learn about the financial rewards and improved food quality resulting from practices that promote increased rates of photosynthesis, farmers and ranchers will adopt practices that sequester carbon in soil.

Achieving this second moonshot will require new thinking, especially in Congress. That’s why I’m running for the Fourth District seat this September. As a physicist, and as a volunteer with almost a decade of experience advocating for federal legislation to address climate change, I understand the science of climate change, the threats we face, and which policies will be most effective in addressing the climate crisis. As someone new to electoral politics, I am unencumbered by debts to special interests or contributors that might limit my ability to speak honestly about the issues and maintain a strong commitment to progressive values.

Meet the Author
I’m seeking the financial support of environmentalists nationwide and the political support of Fourth District voters so that I can join the 116th Congress and help make climate change history.

Gary Rucinski is a Newton resident and Democratic candidate for the Fourth Congressional District seat.