Why Pennsylvania Residents Need to Care About Climate Change

With many of us around the state of Pennsylvania becoming increasingly concerned about the ongoing effects of climate change – floods, massive fires, and other abnormal weather events – there is an increased awareness about what we can do to mitigate these problems in our daily lives, both smaller and larger actions.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection tracks temperature and weather-related impact over a 30-year period, and modeling shows that by 2050 the average summer temperature will be 90 degrees for 30+ days; a massive increase compared to previous years.

“This will result in warmer winters and warmer overall weather,” explained David Althoff, director of the department’s Energy Programs Office. “This will mean a shift in our growing seasons, with farmers having to adapt their historic practices just at the right time, when it comes to planting and harvesting,” in the state’s extensive agriculture industry.

So, how is climate change effecting the daily lives of residents, businesses and industry in Pennsylvania?

Althoff eagerly explained that climate change goes beyond the environmental effects. He said that it is important to understand that the health of the state’s residents can be adversely affected by weather conditions.

“Heat waves are especially hard on people who have respiratory problems like asthma, and other medical issues, such as heart conditions,” he said. “While people living in low lying wooded areas that are prone to flooding can face increases in ticks and Lyme Disease.”

He continued that areas of the state that have massive precipitation will certainly be faced with flooding issues, and Pennsylvania’s streams, rivers, and lakes – a state that has most stream miles, only second to Alaska – will be more prone to flooding. Also, wooded areas will continue to be prone to fires.

Climate impacts are global and cumulative based on emissions in the atmosphere, and as such, Althoff said that the goal of his department is “to slow emissions and the overall impact of climate change.”

His advice to Pennsylvania residents who are concerned about the effects of climate change is to understand that we all contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.  As such, there are many actions – many of them small changes that add up – that we can do to lessen our emission, including recycling, hanging laundry out to dry, installing solar panels, or purchasing solar electricity to power our homes.

As explained in the 2021 Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan, for mitigating climate change, he said, “It tends to revolve around the use of fossil fuels, so heating our homes by using renewable energy to generate electricity and implement this strategy will hopefully get us to the goal of the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals: 26 percent by 2025 and 80 percent use by 2050, based on 2005 levels.” The report will be updated by the end of 2024.

“One of our efforts is not to just write action plans. We encourage communities to adopt programs and deploy opportunities to modernize and build facilities that are more resilient to the impact of climate change,” said Althoff.

“Communities making decisions need to adapt to climate change, and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. “Solutions will be found within efforts involving local climate action planning.”

For more information check out, The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Website.