Climate Change Affecting State
There’s been a barrage of data released recently that caused even staunch climate change deniers to change their position. Yet, at a recent international climate summit, the Trump administration continued to stake out a position against acting on climate. With devastating western wildfires, a stiflingly hot summer in Philadelphia and record-setting rainfall causing devastating floods, climate change and its effects are squarely on the mind of the public. Given significant agreement in the eyes of the public that climate change is a significant problem, it’s sad that the administration remains unwilling to acknowledge the fact that it is real, humans cause it and the effects will be devastating. It’s unfortunate that even with the input of 13 federal agencies, including NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation, that President Trump continues to call climate change a hoax and refuses to participate in a worldwide plan to combat it. The United Nations annual climate conference, took place in Poland in December. During the meetings, Trump administration representatives reaffirmed their intention to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Less than a month earlier, the fourth National Climate Assessment was released the day after Thanksgiving and called for immediate climate change action. Unfortunately, Trump’s skepticism about climate change — combined with his desire to repeal environmental safeguards at the behest of fossil fuel interests and other polluters — has dire effects that will set back our ability to protect our health, save our planet and tackle climate change. While much of the world moves forward with comprehensive steps to address climate change, the United States won’t give up its addiction to dirty and dangerous fossil fuels. Most Americans recognize that the signs are clear and the science is accurate. Climate change is no far-off threat. We already experience its effects. The climate assessment gave us an even more localized look at what we can expect as climate change progresses. Here in Pennsylvania, and throughout the Northeast, we’re in for more rising temperatures, shifting seasons and heavy rainfall. The report states that average temperatures in the Northeast could be as much as 3.6 degrees above the preindustrial average by 2035, which could make Pennsylvania’s climate feel more like Georgia’s. In fact, winter temperatures have warmed three times faster than summers in our region. This threatens Pennsylvania’s winter tourism and ski resorts, endangers our forests and allows disease-carrying insects to thrive. At the same time, increases in rainfall intensity in the Northeast have already exceeded that of other regions, with further increases expected. These heavy downpours endanger our natural ecosystems, create runoff pollution that threatens our waterways and drinking water, cause damage to homes and infrastructure, and can even lead to loss of life. These are all effects that we’ve already begun to experience and will continue to worsen. We can and must do better. Legislators in Washington and in Harrisburg must heed this warning to act on climate change.