Earth Day and Climate Change

Editor’s Note: New York State Senator Kevin Parker has been a great supporter of solar industry and the transition to renewable energy in New York state. In addition to helping to bring the Intersolar USA East conference to Brooklyn, Parker showed early leadership by introducing legislation for a 80% by 2050 renewable energy target in 2012, three years before the state implemented its current 50% by 2030 mandate. He is also known for his inspiring speeches.

By New York State Senator Kevin Parker

It took just 68 days for President Barack Obama’s policies to help combat against the effects of climate change to be undone… Sixty-eight days. This was accomplished by the stroke of a pen as President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order effectively destroying the Obama administration’s policies to fight climate change by reducing the amount of carbon emissions that contributes to air pollution. The pressure is mounting to give in, but now is the time to fight back.

Five years ago, I watched the great State of New York pick up the pieces from a devastating hurricane. Sandy exacted damage on families physically and emotionally – destroying homes and memories all at once. For this reason, we cannot be bystanders in this fight as the evidence is overwhelming. Last year was the hottest year on the planet, and Mother Earth will continue to be damaged unless we act now.

parker_ghg_emissions_graphUnder the Climate Action Plan created by President Obama, the United States would take steps to decrease the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the country. As seen in this figure, under the Climate Action Plan, GHG emissions would continue to keep falling.

In 2009, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) determined that GHG pollution threatened American health and welfare. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) was created to combat these issues, and its positive effects include a decrease in:

* 3,600 premature deaths;

* 1,700 heart attacks;

* 90,000 asthma attacks; and

* 300,000 missed workdays and school days.

As Earth Day 2017 is upon us, we need to stand up against President Trump’s destructive policies that favor deregulation. His policies against reducing GHG emissions undermine the attempt to protect our future generations’ health, clean air, and overall livelihood. Research conducted over the past 30 years proves that air pollution has detrimental effects on the health of all people, yet President Trump is still willing to ignore the facts. His Executive Order also dismisses mitigation efforts to combat natural disasters such as severe flooding and heat waves. If we do not stand and fight, generations to come will pay the price.

Earth Day 2017’s Campaign is Environmental & Climate Literacy, and our President is ignoring the reality of climate change and it comes at the expense of our home – Mother Earth. His new policies discourage innovative ideas for clean air, and different methods of creating renewable energy. The time to fight back is now while the EPA is developing its plan to replace the Clean Power Plan. We have no time to waste. The current President may disregard the effects of climate change, but we know as human beings that we have a moral obligation to protect our environment for future generations. The time to join the fight is NOW!

Kevin Parker currently serves as the ranking member on the New York State Senate’s Energy and Telecommunications Committee.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect those held by pv magazine.