Cascades of Climate Change: A Call For Action

Climate change. Who cares? Well, you should. Climate change is not some far off phenomenon where only people generations from now will experience its devastating effects. Climate Change Is Now. There is only one mother Earth, and we only get one shot to live here.

Whether you are a resident of a coastal state like Maryland or a land locked state like Vermont, you will see the effects of climate change. Climate change does not only mean that the planet will get a little warmer. (I currently live in Vermont, and I wouldn’t mind it being a few degrees warmer in the winter). But this is a misconception of what climate change truly is.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) there is a difference between climate change and global warming. Weather refers to atmospheric conditions that happen in a particular location during short periods of time, while climate refers to average temperature, rainfall patterns and humidity of regional and global areas over a period  of years or decades. Global warming is “the long-term heating of Earth’s climate system observed since the pre-industrial period (between 1850 and 1900) due to human activities, primarily fossil fuel burning, which increases heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in the Earth’s atmosphere.” Climate change is long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth’s local, regional and global climates.

Climate change, whether you are a skeptic or not, is here. It has been affecting the U.S. for quite a while. Coastal communities are assessing their vulnerabilities and risks and have been planning accordingly to implement climate change resilience plans. Despite lack of support for The Paris Agreement at the federal level, states are making progress towards reducing emissions, and may, cumulatively, be able to overcome inertia at the federal level.  The US. Climate Alliance is one of many sub-nationals, which are entities that operate below national government. These actors show that there is a possibility to close the emissions gap without the work of national actors. For example cities, “consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions.”

The U.S. Climate Alliance is a bipartisan coalition consisting of 24  governors who have pledged to reduce greenhouse emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. This state-led entity focuses on cooperation among the states to expedite necessary climate solutions that help each other reach their climate goals.

The Alliance encompasses 55 percent of the U.S. population. It has the third largest economy in the world—ranking under China and the United States—with an $11.7 trillion economy. The members’ policies surrounding climate and clean energy have drawn in billions in investments and has generated more that 1.7 million jobs in the clean energy sector. This number is over half of the total  number of jobs within the clean energy sector in the United States. The U.S. Climate Alliance has illustrated that climate leadership will not destroy economic growth.

This is a wake-up call for Americans. Climate change should not be a politically polarized issue. Republican and Democratic governors alike have shown through the creation of this alliance that climate change should bring us together instead of dividing us.

There is only one planet Earth, and this alliance has taken the initiative to keep the United States on track with its obligations under the Paris Agreement.

The current members of the U.S. Climate Alliance are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

If you do not see your state listed and want it to  join the U.S. Climate Alliance, please press your local representative to take action.

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