On Earth Day, we should focus on reversing the effects of climate change

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We celebrate another Earth Day and again draw attention to protecting our earth and the health of our communities. The President has taken some very disturbing actions which promote continued reliance on fossil fuels and threaten the future health of our nation. He has appointed Scott Pruitt to the US EPA who has recently announced roll-backs on proposed fuel efficiency standards in the wake of public discovery that he has taken a $50 per night deal on a condo from an industry fossil fuel lobby.

Trump has also announced that he will open up nearly all offshore waters to oil drilling –I have joined with others to actively protest against this continued industry development at the expense of public health.  One after another fossil fuel-related projects are proposed and planned and fought in the State of New Hampshire and other states.

The greatest threats to our National Security include climate change and access to clean, safe drinking water. According to the Center for Naval Analysis, there are currently 65 million climate change refugees on the move in the world and they predict there will be 400 million people on the move to escape the effects of climate change by 2050. Portions of the United States will face extreme flooding from storms at increasing frequency while other areas of the world and our country will face droughts and famines.

We saw how when extreme weather events struck Puerto Rico, residents did not have access to clean, safe drinking water and were fed hazardous contaminated water from a Superfund site.

Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and elderly nursing home residents were floating in their flooded homes.  As a result of Harvey, more than two dozen storage tanks holding crude oil, gasoline, and other contaminants failed, spilling at least 145,000 gallons of fuel and spewing toxic pollutants into the air.

Yesterday I attended a conference at Boston University School of Public Health where Dr. Barbara Ferrer reported that vector borne disease seasons transmitted by mosquitos have extended at least 2.5 months and has resulted in increased cases and deaths from West Nile Virus in L.A. County as a result of climate change.  Sabrina McCormick of George Washington University reported that heat stresses caused by climate change are adversely affecting the health of pregnant women.

We can make a difference if we start now making incremental changes to reduce our greenhouse emissions and support use and development of solar and wind energy. Government programs to promote solar and other forms of renewable energy in Germany resulted in a record with 85% of their energy used on April 30, 2017 renewable energy generated by renewable sources.  German government incentives resulted in massive solar panel installations and now Germany typically feeds excess solar-generated energy back into the European grid. The sooner national and state leadership makes the commitment to programs that promote renewable sources of energy, the closer we are to a shot at lessening the impact of climate change on future generations. We all must understand that incremental changes, however big or small have a direct impact on the length of time it will take to slow down or overcome the impact of climate change. We must reduce our reliance on fossil fuels now to protect the future of our children and their children for generations to come.

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Mindi Messmer is an environmental scientist with a background in public health and 30 years of experience. She currently serves as State Representative for New Hampshire’s Rockingham County 24th Assembly District and is a Democratic candidate to represent New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District.