06/12/2007 08:51 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Our Moment in History

Have you taken action to ensure your views are heard on heading off the threat of global warming? Just like any significant historical movement, there is a time to take real, immediate action, and this is it.

The Women's Suffrage movement. The Civil Rights movement. The Environmental movement.

Each represents a moment in history when political, cultural and moral forces within America combined to force a change in our society. At issue were fundamental rights that are now essential parts of our nation: the right to vote, the right to be equal, the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment. Congress and America saw a troubled past, a turbulent present and chose a brighter future.

Right now we are living in the next of these important moments, and this time the future of our planet is at stake.

First the Senate, and then the House, will soon consider legislation that will move America towards achieving energy independence and meet the challenge of global warming.

Americans are aware that the solutions to these challenges are here: better fuel economy in our cars, trucks and SUVs will mean less imported oil and less pain at the pump; clean, renewable energy like wind and solar power using the forces of nature to help defeat global warming instead of forcing global warming upon nature; and a new generation of fuels grown by American farmers will mean jobs in the Midwest instead of insecurity in the Middle East.

The next several weeks can define all of us as the Green Generation. And it can define this era as the Green Revolution, combining the awesome power of American ingenuity that has led every technological revolution over the last 100 years, with the moral imperative that we must protect the planet for future generations.

Congress is a stimulus response institution, and there is nothing more stimulating than an informed and active public.

Now is the time for this response in the form of swift, effective legislative action. Scientists tell us we must make significant cuts in heat-trapping emissions -- 80 percent by 2050 here in the U.S. -- to avoid the worst effects of global warming. And with our dependence on foreign oil having nearly tripled in the past 20 years and the rest of the world churning out more efficient vehicles to the detriment of the American auto industry, now is the time to raise our nation's fuel economy to 35 miles per gallon in the next 10 years.

We must do more than that as well to promote increased use in renewable energy and development of bridge technologies like carbon capture technology for coal plants. We also must always keep in mind that increasing our energy independence must never be at the expense of worsening our global warming problem, and vice versa.

So make a choice: for a cleaner, safer, more secure energy and climate future. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders in Congress have made that choice. Please make the same choice with us. The battle is being fought right now in the halls of Congress, and your participation is needed.

Do what's necessary, and then do what is possible, and pretty soon, we will have done the impossible.

Help make this Independence Day an Energy Independence Day for America. Support legislation that will make our cars and SUVs more energy efficient, that will reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and the other heat-trapping emissions that cause global warming.

Ed Markey (D-MA) is the Chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming