Take Action on Climate Change
The Clean Power Plan (CPP), a central part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, presents us with a historic opportunity to reduce carbon pollution from existing coal-fired power plants.
The Plan sets a limit for each state on carbon dioxide emissions from these plants, and each state will devise its own plan for reaching those limits. Taken together, by 2030 the states’ actions will result in an overall 30% reduction from 2005 levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
The CPP was finalized in June 2015; from that point each state has one year to file its “State Implementation Plan” (SIP). The SIPs will outline the mechanisms each state will use to meet its carbon reduction targets.
Why set carbon limits?
Power plants are the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S., accounting for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon pollution leads to climate disruption. Children, the elderly and the poor are most vulnerable to a range of climate-related health effects.
This is a very important opportunity to advocate for a truly health-protective energy system – one based on energy efficiency and sustainable energy such as wind and solar rather than coal or more natural gas plants. To build support for those solutions, PSR is organizing state- and locally based Climate Health Action Teams (CHATs). Teams consist of PSR members and other interested people who call in to monthly national webinars to learn about clean energy solutions and how they can help advance them in their state. They then take action to ensure that their SIP is as health-protective as possible.
These actions will educate and influence health professionals, the local community, and/or state policymakers. Actions take a variety of forms, ranging from sharing information via social media or writing letters to the editor to making presentations, participating in town hall meetings, and meeting with policy makers.
Climate Change Threatens Your Health
Climate change is already affecting our health! Heat waves caused the most deaths from climate change until Hurricane Katrina happened. Extreme weather events causing flooding, loss of electricity and forced evacuations kills as well. We are seeing epidemics of Lyme disease in the Midwest and increases of severe lung infection called coccidiomycosis in the west as only two of the infectious diseases that are increasing from climate change. Air pollution specifically ozone is increasing due to heat. Ozone increases asthma rates, exacerbations of lung and heart disease, and even affects the fetus with lower birth weights.
The less known effects may be the most troubling. Heat waves cause mental stress and more violence of all types. Climate change also affects our ability to grow food and results in higher prices or shortages such as the drought in California this year or the Midwest drought of 2013. Higher sea levels are causing routine flooding in low lying areas already with sewer backups and threats to our water supplies on the coast. Ocean acidification is affecting the growth of shellfish such as oysters and causing loss of coral reefs which are the “rain forests” of the sea.
The monthly CHAT webinars provided information and training on:
- The Clean Power Plan and how it addresses climate change.
- How the Clean Power Plan could integrate health-protective energy systems by focusing on energy efficiency, renewable energy (wind and solar) and avoiding natural gas.
- How to be a successful advocate for clean and healthy energy within your state.
CHAT #5 – May 20, 2015
How Coal Kills: The Link Between Coal Pollution, Climate Change and Respiratory Disease
Speaker: Alan H. Lockwood, MD FAAN, Co-Chair of PSR Environment and Health Committee
Video | Slides
CHAT #6 – June 17, 2015
Wind Power: Clean, Efficient and Healthy
Speakers: Hannah Hunt and Michael Goggin, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and Maureen McCue, MD, Iowa PSR Coordinator and National PSR Board member.
Video | Slides
Resources by State
Climate Change Fact Sheets (PSR National)
Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action (US EPA Report, June 2015)
National Climate Assessement (U.S. Global Change Research Program)
Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE CDC Program)
US Climate Resilience Toolkit (NOAA)
How Big Coal Makes Us Sick (Sierra Club)
Study: Air pollution causes 200,000 early deaths each year in the U.S. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Connecting on Climate (EcoAmerica)
Enhancing Health Care Resilience for a Changing Climate (Department of health and Human Services)
State Specific Fact Sheets (EPA)
EPA Clean Power Plan (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality)
Climate Change Health Threats in California (Natural Resources Defense Council)
Activist’s Guide to Idaho’s Clean Energy Future (Snake River Alliance)
Climate and Health in Iowa (Natural Resources Defense Council)
Federal Climate and Energy Issues (Natural Resources Council of Maine)
Energy & Health in Maryland (Maryland Environmental Health Network)
The Clean Power Plan and New York (National Wildlife Federation)
Global Warming Solutions (Penn Environment)
Wisconsin Climate and Health Profile Report (Wisconsin Department of Health Services)