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Monday, September 16, 2013
In her Aug. 11 commentary, “Climate-change zealotry will cost jobs,” Jane Van Ryan posits that by regulating carbon pollution, the Obama administration “could eliminate the ability of many American families to reach for the American dream.”
In fact, acting to slow and stop climate change will undoubtedly improve our health, safety, environment and economy. Failing to do so will leave future generations with diminished resources and opportunities.
The science on this issue is unambiguous: 97 percent of climate scientists agree that global warming is real and caused by human activity. We reached 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for the first time in human history this spring, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently confirmed that 2012 was the hottest year on record in the U.S.
The costs of inaction are already being felt around the commonwealth and beyond: nine out of 10 Virginians live in counties and independent cities affected by federally-declared weather-related disasters since 2007. Nationally, between 2011 and 2012, Superstorm Sandy and 24 other extreme weather events left $188 billion in damages and claimed more than 1,100 lives. Scientists agree that these types of events are likely to become more frequent and more severe in a warming world.
The United States’ largest source of carbon emissions is our power plants, though to date, there are no regulations on carbon emissions from power plants the way there are on arsenic, mercury, sulfur and soot. As part of his Climate Action Plan, President Obama has directed the Environmental Protection Agency, under the authority of the Clean Air Act, to issue limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants.
Americans submitted more than 3 million comments — including 130,000 from Virginia — in favor of this plan last year. And in a recent poll, nearly two-thirds of voters said they support “the President taking significant steps to address climate change now.”
The opponents of action ignore and deny the science that tells us it is time to act – and often times are quietly backed by corporate polluters.
When Van Ryan suggests that the president and his administration “place a higher value on big government and the environmental movement than on the financial well-being of the American people,” she is failing to recognize that the health benefits from the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 are estimated to exceed the costs of implementation by a factor of more than 30 to one.
By 2010, they had prevented 13 million lost work days and 165,000 premature deaths.
The costs of inaction are too great, and doubting American determination and ingenuity will not get us where we need to go. As President Obama said this June when unveiling the nation’s first comprehensive climate action plan:
“Americans are not a people who look backwards; we’re a people who look forward. We’re not a people who fear what the future holds; we shape it. What we need in this fight are citizens who will stand up, and speak up, and compel us to do what this moment demands.”
Responding to this call to action, around 50 residents of the Roanoke Valley came together Aug. 28 with Sen. John Edwards, Mayor David Bowers, Supervisor Charlotte Moore, energy and efficiency expert Monica Rokicki-Guajardo, and Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition cofounder Mark McClain to rally for action on climate change at an event hosted by Environment Virginia, Organizing for Action and RVCCC.
Echoing the president’s statement, Mayor Bowers said, “We’re not trying to go left, we’re not trying to go right, we’re trying to go forward.”
Future generations are depending on us to leave them a strong economic future and a vibrant natural environment.
Supporting President Obama’s national climate action plan will ensure that we do.
Weather JournalWarmth next 2 days hits icy wall