A report released by U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper in collaboration with Tennessee climate-advocacy groups details the long-terms effects unchecked global warming will have on Tennesseans.
On Nov. 4, President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, a unified effort from participating nations that focuses on mitigating the effects of greenhouse gas emissions.
“It was reckless and irresponsible to leave the Agreement and we will be spending decades trying to reverse the impact on our climate,” said Cooper.
According to the report, the devastating effects of global warming will hit close to home, and as many 79,000 fatalities could occur over the next 50 years due to natural catastrophes.Climate Report - Tennesee State_FINAL
“This report shows the impacts on Tennesseans of failing to address climate change, [for example] worsening floods, droughts, more vector-borne diseases like West Nile and Lyme, as well as the health impacts of air pollution from burning fossil fuels, including asthma, heart and lung disease,” said Alan Leiserson, a volunteer with Citizens’ Climate Lobby.
In 2010, Tennessee experienced a flood with 26 fatalities, and earlier this year, tornadoes tore through much of Middle Tennessee. With unchecked global warming, climate change advocates expect an increase in natural catastrophes such as floods, droughts and wildfires.
With shorter winters, an increase in insect activity can harm native plants, while an extended allergy season will harm asthma sufferers. A drier climate threatens crop quality and can affect Tennessee’s farming economy.
“Pretty much every aspect of your life will be affected by a warming climate,” said Jeffrey Barrie, chief executive officer at Tennessee Environmental Council.
Climate-change advocates are hoping the U.S. will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement through President-elect Joe Biden in 2021.
“We have hope that we can get better at taking care of our planet, and this report is a wake-up call that we have got to take action,” said Barrie.
“To know that there’s solutions that are available today, it just takes a little bit of political leadership to move us in that direction,” he added.