By failing to take bold action on climate change, we not only put the health of our own most vulnerable citizens — children, the elderly and the poor — at risk, but many of the world’s poorest, most disadvantaged populations as well.
In the United States alone, rising temperatures and shifting climates can lead to a variety of harmful health effects, ranging from frequent and severe allergies, to heat stroke, respiratory illnesses and infectious disease spread. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 6.8 million American children have asthma – a chronic illness that already disproportionately impacts marginalized communities. Climate-related factors have led to a four-fold increase in asthma prevalence in the U.S. in the past 20 years.
In developing nations, the problems of climate change are twofold. Not only are these countries among the least responsible for the increased atmospheric carbon concentration, they are also predicted to bear the burden of the most severe climatic shifts. The consequences of these shifts are likely to be dire and far-reaching, including drought, agricultural collapse and increased ranges of tropical diseases.
In times of economic stress and uncertainty, it can be easy to reduce every matter to arguments about financial costs and benefits. We believe that investments in clean energy can win these arguments. However, we can’t ignore the underlying ethical challenge, and we can’t forget what is truly at stake when talking about climate change. Transitioning to cleaner sources of energy will reduce harmful emissions that threaten our global health and cause unneeded human and financial strain. It’s time we get serious about addressing climate change. It’s time to repower America — and the world.
Thomas Witkin & Eileen Divringi
Engineering sophomore and LSA junior