Climate Change Could Kill 150,000 Americans This Century
It was an incredibly warm winter in the nation’s capital—March was the warmest on record, capping five straight months of above-average temperatures. And I’m looking at a forecast now calling for a high of 95 degrees on Saturday, before June even hits.
Yet policymakers here are reluctant (let’s phrase it generously) to take serious action to combat the underlying problem of climate change. There have been some positive steps—like the EPA’s proposal to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, and the delay and possible termination of the Keystone XL pipline—but many frustrating failures as well. It’s been years since any serious effort was made at climate change legislation. I can’t remember the last time Obama spoke about it, and his campaign is not promising much of anything in that regard. In fact, this morning’s New York Times describes in detail how Obama is eager to expand oil drilling off the coast of Alaska.
Perhaps if policymakers were more keenly attuned to the negative externalities of climate change—the bad effects beyond just breaking out your shorts a little earlier than usual—more serious action might be possible. Bill McKibben, in an excellent article for The Nation earlier this year, noted that rising temperatures will have devastating effects on plants, soil, and the agricultural industry; dried-out forests mean more massive wildfires; mild winters lead to more disease-spreading ticks.