Ed Perry | Climate crisis demands our attention

July 15, 2013 

Ed Perry

Last month, President Obama laid out his plan to confront climate change, the first president in history to begin the process of breaking our addiction to polluting fossil fuels.

His plan would not only protect future generations, but also our country’s fish and wildlife resources. As a sportsman and a grandfather, I support his call to action to protect America’s outdoor heritage.

Right now, America relies heavily on polluting coal and gas power, with renewable energy sources such as solar and wind lagging far behind.

Climate scientists have been telling us for years that our continued reliance on fossil fuels would create more extreme weather and cause more than 40 percent of all life on the planet to go extinct in the lifetime of my grandson unless we greatly reduced our emissions of carbon pollution from large industrial sources, like power plants.

Those of us living in the northern part of Pennsylvania are seeing the true cost of satisfying our need for more energy.

We are taking the last, best part of Pennsylvania and turning it into a vast industrial forest.

Is anyone out there who cares at all about clean air and water willing to tolerate thousands of natural gas wells in a part of our state that is home to some of the most pristine trout streams and unfragmented forest left in Pennsylvania?

It is one thing to drill on private lands; it’s quite another matter to turn our beloved state forestlands into a maze of well pads, haul roads, pipelines and holding ponds. Degraded land, air and water resources is the price we have to pay if we continue to use coal, oil and gas to cool and heat our homes and businesses and to run our vehicles.

What we really need is a strategy to get off these dirty fossil fuels that ruin our air, land and water and cut carbon pollution. And the president’s latest plan does that.

His common-sense plan for meeting our obligation to protect future generations from climate change tackles the largest sources of carbon pollution where it’s produced.

At present, coal-fired power plants are allowed to emit as much carbon pollution into the atmosphere as they want. The president not only plans to restrict pollution from new power plants, but reduce pollution from existing power plants.

And he’s not stopping there.

To replace these dirty fuels, he proposes to expand responsibly developed renewable energy on public lands. From solar energy on desert lands in the Southwest to offshore wind on the Great Lakes and off the Atlantic Coast, we have limitless potential for safe, clean, American-made energy.

To speed the transition to clean energy, Obama has directed the Department of the Interior to permit an additional 10 gigawatts of renewable energy on public lands by 2020 — enough to power 6 million homes.

Twelve of the hottest years on record have been in the past 15 years. Every decade for the past 40 years has been hotter than the previous decade. We’ve had 338 consecutive months in which the temperature was above the 20th century average.

Given these facts, isn’t it about time we stopped repudiating the overwhelming majority of climate scientists who have been telling us that industrial carbon pollution is causing the planet to heat up, and get on with the process of safeguarding our planet for future generations?

We know the steps we need to take to protect wildlife, our communities and current and future generations of Americans from climate change.

Obama’s plan captures the scale of what is needed to protect our communities and safeguard wildlife and to prepare for the climate impacts we’re already seeing.

His call to action has my full support.

Ed Perry, of State College, is Pennsylvania outreach coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation. Readers may write to him at paglobalwarmingoutreach@gmail.com.

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