President Obama's speech on June 25 about the executive actions he'll be taking to slow climate change was a welcome development.
His plan to set standards for both existing and new coal-fired power plants is what we need to reduce some of the most challenging changes we can expect here in Pennsylvania due to increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Studies by the Union of Concerned Scientists and Penn State University a few years ago showed that the number of days in Pennsylvania over 100 degrees could rise by mid-century from two to 24.
Our weather could resemble Alabama's, or at least southern Virginia's. With higher temperatures, we'll experience worse air pollution, pollen, and insect problems. Asthma among children, already nearly twice as high in Philadelphia as the national average, is likely to rise with the temperature.
Setting standards on carbon pollution, insisting that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will not be approved if it would have a negative impact on climate change (as it surely will), doubling solar and wind power, ending some of the subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, and putting a priority on energy efficiency are all sensible protections for our environment and economy. I would have liked to hear him say that fracking for natural gas is not a safe bridge to the future, given its methane emissions, air and water pollution, and other problems. And I would have liked him to assert that nuclear energy has no place in our future due to safe waste storage impossibility. But the overall thrust of his message is to be applauded.
I agree with his conclusion that "Everything we hold dear is at stake."
Sue Edwards, Swarthmore