Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day: A Turning Point for Global Climate Change?

Andrea Sears, Public News Service

Everyone can help reduce global climate change. (Tony Webster/Flickr)
Everyone can help reduce global climate change. (Tony Webster/Flickr)
HARRISBURG, Pa. - It's Earth Day and representatives of 155 countries are gathered in New York City to sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Under that agreement, those nations will work to keep the rise in global temperatures below two degrees Celsius, a goal that could help limit the worst effects of climate change.

Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of PennFuture, points out this is the latest in a series of efforts to slow climate change, efforts that stretch back some 30 years.

"And every time we were beaten back by the fossil fuel interests," he says. "And now, we have this Paris Agreement and the Clean Power rules, and we can only hope that they don't beat us back once again."

He says PennFuture is urging everyone to do their part, from composting organic trash to purchasing electric power from renewable sources, to aid in the effort.

According to Schweiger, Pennsylvania alone emits about 110 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, the equivalent of one full day of the entire earth's carbon pollution.

"So, we have a big role to play as a state," he says. "And I think it takes every citizen to give voice to the need to avoid climate change."

Schweiger adds the effects of climate change are no longer just predictions of future events. He cites severe weather events like the recent torrential rains in Texas as indications that climate change is real and is happening now.

"We're seeing those kinds of things happen more and more around the world," says Schweiger. "And they are strong indications to us that we need to move quickly to avoid even worse conditions."

He says many experts now agree that the transition to clean energy is going to happen. But the question remains, will it happen in time?

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