Today, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, a national committee of experts in agriculture, climate science, commerce and disaster relief, published the third National Climate Assessment (NCA). The report is the nation’s foremost comprehensive, peer-reviewed analysis of the impacts of climate change, showing clearly the effects in Virginia and across the country.
The report found that nationally, average U.S. temperature has increased 1.5 degrees since 1895. The report shows the significant toll on our health and wallets that extreme weather is already exacting in Virginia. It also makes clear that these impacts will only grow worse if we fail to curb carbon pollution, the main culprit behind climate change.
The report predicts that, in Virginia, climate change threatens public health, safety and the economy from increased extreme weather events, decreased air quality that worsens asthma, the spread of vector-born diseases like Lyme Disease, and from coastal infrastructure that is vulnerable to sea level rise and storm surge.
A coalition of environmental, public health and faith-based organizations in Virginia responded to the findings:
“Today’s climate report shows that the cost of inaction is far too great for us to continue with business as usual,” said Kate Addleson, Program Manager with the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club. “It is evident that we need to move away from carbon-intensive power plants, the largest single source of pollution causing climate disruption. The common sense response is to hasten the shift to readily available, cost-effective clean energy resources, like geothermal, wind and solar, and take advantage of all available energy efficiency measures.”
“This report makes the urgency to act on climate crystal clear,” said Sarah Bucci, Campaign Director with Environment Virginia. “It’s time for action from Washington and for Virginia’s Governor Terry McAuliffe and U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner to show leadership.”
“The environmental protection agency is working on a new plan to limit the carbon pollution from power plants. We call on leaders at all levels of government to support EPA’s crucial action in the fight to protect our communities from climate change,” said Chelsea Harnish, Policy and Campaigns Manager with Virginia Conservation Network.
“This report makes it very clear that climate impacts upon our nation are a moral, ethical and spiritual issue that every citizen in Virginia and the United States will need to examine from their own faith or religious perspective. There’s no avoiding this reality — we cannot ignore climate change or pretend it isn’t real,” said Rev. Richard Cizik, a representative of Virginia Interfaith Power and Light. “Moreover, this Assessment makes EPA action on carbon emissions a moral necessity.”
“Hampton Roads is the second most vulnerable region in the nation to the impacts of sea level rise. This assessment underscores the importance of tackling climate change to protect families in Virginia and throughout the United States,” said Kirsten Collings, Deputy Director with Chesapeake Climate Action Network.
Terra Pascarosa, North Carolina and Virginia Regional Director of the Moms Clean Air Force, states that “adverse health impacts on our children, such as increasing rates of pediatric asthma, demonstrate the need to protect our children’s health from air pollution and climate change. As Virginians and parents we must support the Environmental Protection Agency’s new plan to limit carbon pollution.”
More than 240 authors from across the country with diverse expertise helped create the National Climate Assessment. The findings are considered conservative estimates of the impacts of climate change. The full report including details of the cost to Virginia’s families of climate disruptions can be found at http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/report.