Add the science of climate change to the list of phenomena about which Congress has so far shown willful ignorance (“Science in self-interest,” Aug. 21). By claiming that climate change is a hoax or by casting doubt on the overwhelming scientific consensus that it is occurring and that humans are causing it, Congress relieves itself from having to deal with it.

And that is unforgivable because climate change unchecked may literally make our planet unlivable. Furthermore, we know what must be done to stop it — reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Although there are other sources of these emissions, one huge source is the burning of fossil fuels. We must transition away from burning fossil fuels and do it quickly. Other energy sources are available: solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, wind turbines, nuclear and hydroelectric. Human ingenuity will develop more over time. What it takes is the political will to make this transition.

That's where we come in. We elect every member of Congress, and so Congress reflects our wishes. So we have to face what science is telling us and quit showing willful ignorance about climate change. We have to tell our senators and representative that we want action.

Action might require sacrifice. But if we act soon and act sensibly, that sacrifice will be minimal. Most economists recommend putting a price on carbon as the best way to encourage the market to choose alternate energy sources. If that causes consumer prices to rise, returning all the revenue collected to us as a monthly “dividend” check would cushion the blow. In fact, a study has shown that some households would actually come out ahead.

Putting a price on carbon has positive effects, too. As air pollution from burning fossil fuels goes down, overall health improves and lives are saved. New jobs are created in renewable energy industries.

We are already getting hints of our future if we fail to act: Extreme weather events such as 6 inches of rain in two hours in Ellicott City and 30 inches in south Louisiana in two days; rising sea level causing streets to be underwater in South Florida and Norfolk, Va., when the sun is shining; average global temperature warming at an alarming rate — July was the warmest month ever on record.

Extreme weather events are forecast to increase in frequency and intensity. How can our country afford the cleanup? Do we want to pay the price in human suffering and lives lost? If we're seeing these events now, what will our planet be like for our grandchildren?

I've chosen to lobby Congress in person about climate change. When I do, I take along a picture of my granddaughter and display it on the table beside me. It reminds me and the congressional staffer I'm meeting with that what we do now about climate change will affect the planet she and all of our grandchildren will inherit. It's important.

Cheryl Arney, Ellicott City