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Some know they must stop smoking, but can’t, and it wrecks their health. As spelled out in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, humanity has been acting like a chain smoker. Initiative 1631 gives us the chance to change. The opposition to I-1631 is largely concerned with the politics of taxing and spending. These are important matters, but they should not be endlessly debated in lieu of taking action. I-1631 is the third major effort to discourage carbon emissions in Washington state.

Science shows carbon emissions remain in the atmosphere for hundreds to thousands of years, warming and dramatically changing the climate. Because of the way carbon accumulates, the emission reductions required to hold future changes in climate below any given level become more drastic with each year we wait to begin serious cuts.

Unlike the carbon emitted while waiting for a perfect law, passing I-1631 does not represent an irrevocable hundreds-of-years commitment. After a short period, I-1631 could be amended to make it even better.

Now is the time to take a big step to kick our carbon habit.

Dale Durran, professor and chair, and 21 other professors in the Atmospheric Sciences Department at the University of Washington, Seattle (the views expressed here are those of the authors and not UW)