What we know:
* Climate change is happening now and having real consequences on our lives, natural habitats and economies.
Seemingly every week new evidence emerges to reinforce the clear and present danger of climate change.
Just this week, the National Climatic Data Center reported that the Earth as a whole had its fourth-hottest month on record in July and the world’s oceans had the warmest month on record.
It is these types of persistently warmer temperatures that, according to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), are contributing to disturbing new trends in America’s outdoor experience. A new report issued this week by NWF, which examines the impact of warmer temperatures, stronger storms, and changes in habitat on eight species, literally demonstrates that you can see the impact of climate change in your backyard:
Toxic algae outbreaks like the one that poisoned drinking water in Lake Erie are becoming worse and more frequent; Deer ticks, tiger mosquitoes and fire ants are becoming more widespread as a result of warmer temperatures and milder winters; and More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is accelerating the growth and increasing the abundance of poison ivy.
* We have existing and affordable solutions that will enable us to move away from our dependency on climate causing energy sources – we cannot afford the cost of inaction.
In April, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the third and final report in a series from the United Nations’ climate science body detailing the evidence of man-made climate change, the risks it poses and the range of solutions available to slow it down. The report concluded that averting a climate catastrophe will be affordable as long as countries act urgently. In response, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement, “So many of the technologies that will help us fight climate change are far cheaper, more readily available and better performing than they were when the last IPCC assessment was released less than a decade ago.” And those solutions are already gaining traction in the United States.
In January, an administrative law judge for Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission chose to invest state funds in solar energy —not for its environmental friendliness, but for the fact that it was cheaper. “It seemed that nonrenewable energy sources always won the head-to-head cost comparisons,” the judge said in his announcement. “Not anymore.” And this spring, the city of Austin, Texas, signed a 20-year agreement with Recurrent Energy to supply electricity to the city from solar power at a rate less than the city’s prevailing rate, meaning electric rates for households will decline under the solar deal.
What we need:
* Leaders across the globe to commit to bold and immediate action to avert irreversible climate disruption.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is convening a climate summit in New York City on Sept. 23. He is challenging “leaders from Governments, businesses and civil society to raise the level of ambition, catalyze action on the ground and increase political momentum,” to tackle what he describes as the “defining issue of our times.”
Further, he is asking these leaders to announce their commitment to bold actions that will reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement at the next scheduled global climate negotiations in 2015.
President Barack Obama has confirmed attendance to the summit, which serves as a signal to both the American people and other heads of state that global climate action is a priority of his administration.
* A strong united movement to pressure our local, state and national leaders to act on climate.
More than one million people are expected to descend on New York the Sunday before the summit starts, in what will be the largest climate march in history. The People’s Climate March on Sept.21 in New York City will demonstrate mass support for efforts to tackle climate change ahead of the summit.
Public Citizen has joined the more than 750 (and growing) businesses, unions, faith groups, schools, social justice groups and environmental groups working together to make this peacefully march happen. This is a critical moment in our fight to avert catastrophic climate change and transition to clean, affordable and safe energy. To change everything, we need everyone on board.
Allison Fisher is the Outreach Director for Public Citizen’s Energy and Climate Program