400 Pennsylvania Professors Urge Governor Wolf, Senator Casey to Tackle Climate Change

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Letter Emphasizes Scientific Research on Climate Change, Supports Clean Power Plan

PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

In response to ongoing debate surrounding the Environmental Protection Agency’s finalized Clean Power Plan, more than 400 Pennsylvania academic leaders  have signed a letter emphasizing the scientific validity of climate change and urging Governor Wolf and Senator Casey to implement a strong state plan that minimizes carbon pollution.

“[The]Clean Power Plan to limit carbon pollution from power plants is an essential step forward on the path to reducing carbon pollution and shifting to clean energy,” the letter states. “The action couldn’t come soon enough: It is becoming more and more apparent that urgent action on global warming is critical if we are going to secure a safer future for our children. 

Professors, researchers and lecturers at 29 Pennsylvania universities, as well as Harvard and Georgetown Universities, signed the letter to demonstrate the need for state lawmakers to take action based on the body of scientific research on climate change. At least 97 percent of actively publishing climate scientists agree that human activities are very likely the cause of global warming trends in the last 100 years, according to a study published in Environmental Research Letters and in other peer-reviewed scientific journals.

“The debate on global climate change is entirely a political one, not a scientific one,” said Dr. Michael Zdilla, associate professor of chemistry at Temple University and one of the signatories.  “There is a clear consensus–greater than 97 percent from the peer-reviewed scientific literature–that human activity has caused climate change, and that a response to attenuate its effects is already late in coming. Immediate and decisive action is needed in Pennsylvania and the rest of the world now.” 

As the effects of global climate change continue to increase with stronger storms, harsher droughts and rising temperatures, the Clean Power Plan is a significant step forward in allowing Pennsylvania and the United States to limit the environmental impact of climate change.

“This plan is critical for our future, and we ought to take industry warnings about potential costs with a grain of salt,” said Dr. Caroline Nielsen, Assistant Professor of Biology at Cabrini College and a signatory of the letter. “In the past, environmental regulations to address acid rain, lead poisoning, smog and other hazards have all saved lives while ultimately costing much less than industries predicted.”

“While we understand that the threat of climate change is real, we also have the know-how at our fingertips to tackle this problem,” said Dr. Xu Liang, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh who also signed the letter. “We’ve made significant progress in exploring the use of alternative energy sources and in energy conservation and we can definitely find a solution to the problem before it is too late if we start to work on it today.”

The letter was distributed to professors across Pennsylvania by PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center, a statewide environmental advocacy organization, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The strong support from academics across Pennsylvania illustrates the respected scientific research on the causes of and solutions for climate change: 

“Addressing climate change is of the utmost importance to our nation,” said Dr. Manfred Paulini from Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Physics. “It is critical to ensure that Pennsylvania implements a strong plan to reduce global warming pollution and protect future generations.” 

“Our nation needs specific reduction goals in carbon emission if we are going to get traction on curbing climate change. We need to act now, not later. The Clean Power Plan is real action for real change,” said Dr. Sid Halsor, chair of the Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences department at Wilkes University.

“Without a planet that can sustain us, nothing else matters,” said Sarah Dawson, Director of Wohlsen Center for Sustainable Environment at Franklin and Marshall College. “The time to act is now.”