Global warming’s impacts and risks at home identified

A report being released tomorrow by the Union of Concerned Scientists will identify the impacts and risks of global warming in Pennsylvania, underscoring the need for the state to adopt a strong Climate Change Action Plan, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council said today.

The Action Plan is required under legislation passed recently by the State Legislature, and the committee overseeing the plan development met for the first time in September.

“The timing of the UCS report is perfect with the state just beginning its work on a climate-change assessment and action plan,” said John Walliser, Vice President for Legal and Governmental Affairs at the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.

“Climate change will impact our economy, our environment and our quality of life, leaving long-lasting impacts for our children and grandchildren.  This report illustrates those impacts right here in Pennsylvania.  Unless we understand how severe those impacts might be, we will not appreciate the high cost of inaction.  We must embrace the need for prompt and deliberative action to address the impacts that are already happening in every city and every field and forest across the Commonwealth,” Walliser said.

PEC’s Climate Change Roadmap for Pennsylvania made 38 specific recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Pennsylvania, which by itself releases one percent of total emissions world-wide.  The Roadmap was a key in development of the state legislation and a vital source for some material in the forthcoming UCS report.

The UCS report, entitled “Climate Change in Pennsylvania: Impacts and Solutions from the Keystone State,” will offer the most in-depth analysis to date of global warming’s potential impacts on:

  • Agriculture and dairy production.
  • Recreation and tourism, including skiing, snowmobiling and fishing.
  • Public health impacts from air quality, allergies and extreme heat, both statewide and in seven major cities.
  • Changes in precipitation, including winter snow cover and summer droughts.

The report was developed by UCS staff along with 30 scientists from universities and colleges in Pennsylvania.  It will spell out impacts that are already happening and can no longer be avoided because of greenhouse gasses already put in our atmosphere.  More importantly, it will spell out different impacts Pennsylvanians can expect depending on how much more heat-trapping gasses enter the atmosphere, examining both a “business as usual” scenario and a scenario which assumes dramatic reductions in emissions.