Public News Service-PA
(05/29/12) HARRISBURG, Pa. - Thousands of people in Pennsylvania could die by the end of the century as a direct result of summer heat driven to extremes by climate change, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The report estimates that 1200 such deaths could happen in Pittsburgh alone and another 700 in Philadelphia unless steps are taken to reverse the trends.
Judith Focerata, a registered nurse and coordinator of environmental health initiatives at Magee-Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh, says Pennsylvania is home to many of the factors attributed to climate change.
"There's carbon pollution from automobiles, also from coal-fired plants. Some people feel that the fracking process releases heat-trapping gases into the air."
Focerata says Pennsylvania cities, by their design, also trap heat in what's called the "urban heat island" effect.
She says the study is a wake-up call giving notice that, while big corporations are the biggest offenders, we all play a role in the problems and the solutions.
"Climate change is something we're going to have to address, and it's important for people to recognize that even if they take small steps, they can contribute to the change."
Dr. Dan Lashof is program director of the Climate and Clean Energy Program for the NDRC and a contributor to the study. He says while there is minor climate variability year to year, there's something else at work.
"What we're seeing very clearly is that there is also a trend on top of that, that really can only be explained because of the effects of carbon pollution and other heat-trapping gases increasing in our atmosphere due to pollution."
The dangers of carbon pollution have been the topic of recent EPA hearings and the agency is taking public comment through June 25 on its plan to limit that pollution from new power plants.
The full report can be accessed at www.nrdc.org.