By Roger A. Sabbadini

Do you have a point you’d like to make or an issue you feel strongly about? Submit a letter to the editor or a guest column.

I am writing to urge my community and my legislator’s support for the Oregon Clean Energy Jobs bill, released in draft form after years of work. Please do not let identity politics prevent its adoption and implementation.

I struggle to understand why the issue of climate change has become a partisan issue. I do not share the opinion that climate change skeptics are uneducated or uninformed about global warming and other impacts we humans have been making on our planet since the dawn of the industrial revolution.

Most climate change skeptics know about the vast amounts of scientific evidence demonstrating our impact on climate, air and water pollution, greenhouse warming and resultant sea level rise.

Anglers like me know it when we see our fisheries in rapid decline. Firefighters understand it when they are faced with longer fire seasons and more frequent and intense firestorms, etc.

So why the resistance to needed action? There seem to be several groups of skeptics.

The first group are those who don’t think it is important enough to their lives because they don’t directly experience climate change effects or believe the consequences are too far in the future to concern them.

A second group accept the premise but believe they are personally powerless to do anything about such a daunting issue and would prefer not to think about it.

The third group of climate change deniers, and the one that concerns me most, are those for whom climate change has become an ideological battle between those who believe in data-driven science and those who do not.

For them, accepting the science of climate change is to cross the forbidden political boundary and to align with a political culture or a party that is averse to theirs.

To accept the data-driven premise that climate change is important and in need of immediate redress would require them to identify with the left, progressives, the Democratic Party and environmentalists.

Some from this third group believe that climate change has been exaggerated to advance a left-wing political agenda. Others in this group serve interests that have power and money in promoting inaction or denial or fact on climate change.

Katherine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist who studies climate change at Texas Tech University, makes these points and argues that accepting the data as something that matters has sadly become a partisan issue, not a scientific one.

Hayhoe suggests that, in speaking about climate change with our lawmakers and friends who might take a skeptical view, we need to find common ground and a framework for a dialogue that breaks down artificial partisan barriers.

Climate change affects things we all hold dear such as the welfare of the family, a robust economy on which we all depend, the food we eat, the air we all breathe, the national security of the country we all love and the political stability of the world.

Yet, too many fail to connect the dots between those values in common and climate change.

Additionally, nefarious political operatives representing entrenched interests work to disconnect the dots in advancing their economic agenda. Climate change should not be defined as a liberal, democratic, progressive issue.

It is a human issue and an issue that affects all life on our precious planet.

Consequently, I would urge my lawmakers to lead. Lead us away from this culture war of identity politics, and lead us into a future of empowerment where we embrace clean energy and other solutions as nonpartisan.

Regardless of political affiliation, all of us value our children and want them to inherit a habitable planet.

— Roger A. Sabbadini is an emeritus distinguished professor of biology at San Diego State University and lives in Bend.