Everywhere you drive these days are signs to “come get your flu shots.” But what we need is a handy inoculation for our planet against climate change-creating carbon emissions.
The news reports that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds that one of the many health effects of climate change on humans will be an increase in infectious disease. Already in Maine, we notice warming temperatures have brought us Lyme-disease-bearing ticks moving in from the south.
And we know that carbon and other pollutants that flow to Maine from power plants to the south and west of us contribute to Maine’s first-in-the-nation levels of asthma. Add to this the recent news that 2014 was the warmest in our recorded history!
Fortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Clean Power Plan offers common-sense limits on dangerous carbon pollution from power plants that can prevent up to 150,000 asthma attacks and 6,600 premature deaths annually by 2030.
Maine is already a partner in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which has been reducing carbon pollution from power plants for the last seven years. Like the RGGI, the new EPA plan uses a market-based approach to spur investment in energy efficiency and clean energy.
From extreme weather and warming seasons to respiratory disease, climate change is costly and bad for our health. Our leaders must act before it’s too late – and the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is our best, biggest step forward yet.
Fortunately, both of our senators get it, and Sen. Susan Collins recently voted, contrary to her party’s majority, that climate change is a substantial threat. We should thank them both for their leadership and ask them to continue to support further reductions in carbon emissions.
Tony Owens, M.D.