Happy New Year, Climate Fans!
Despite Congress pressing the climate action snooze button, 2011 has already brought us a welcome climate surprise.
No, I’m not talking about the EPA moving forward to regulate carbon pollution – and the attacks on clean air from the usual suspects. We’ve anticipated this showdown of public health and economic growth vs. polluting corporate special interests for a while—and stay tuned here for updates as climate deniers and fossil fuel-backed Members of Congress use every trick in the book to gut the Clean Air Act.
Our climate surprise comes from an unlikely state. Say “climate action” and most folks would think of places like California or Oregon. But it seems we should think about adding Iowa to that list. Yes. I said Iowa.
In response to the Iowa Legislature’s request, the state’s Climate Change Impacts Committee rang in the New Year by releasing a report on Climate Change Impacts on Iowa. The report runs down the list of current and expected climate impacts to Iowans including: more frequent storms, higher humidity, increased flooding, damage to crops, affected wildlife and wildlands (and related hunting/fishing opportunities), and numerous public health issues from heat waves to respiratory illness.
What to do in the face of these, and additional, climate challenges?
The report’s most important recommendation should be a wake-up call for Members of Congress getting back to The Hill this week: “halting ongoing climate-change manifestations depends on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
However, the report also lists some important action steps to help protect Iowa’s citizens, natural resources and economy in a warming world. Notably,
-Incorporating current and anticipated climate impacts into policy and appropriations decisions.
-Protect the state’s soil, water quality and agricultural productivity in the face of climate change.
And of special interest to many of us:
-”Increase investments in state programs that enhance wildlife habitat and management and restore public and private lands. Changes in climate will have direct impact on both game and non-game species.” I couldn’t have said it any better myself!
While the report discusses climate change’s negative economic consequences for Iowans, it regrettably fails to address a critical upside to addressing climate disruption: protecting and creating jobs.
Investments in keeping our natural resources resilient in a warming world can protect and create thousands of jobs across the country while protecting the $730 billion active outdoor recreation industry and a host of other critical natural services (Like clean water? How about clean air? Thank your forests). What’s more, these investments in natural resources can create more jobs per dollar than other industries (like fossil fuels or nuclear energy).
As we gear up to defend against attacks on climate policies, it’s good to know that out in the “real world,” states continue to move forward on addressing climate disruption. That said, we’ll only avoid a true climate crisis if we dramatically reduce carbon pollution and keep our communities and wildlands resilient in a warming world—and for that we’ll need more of you “back home” waking up your Members of Congress and shaking them out of their climate snooze.
Follow JP on Twitter @TWSjp
Photo credit: Neal Smith NWR courtesy of the US Fish & Wildlife Service