Everyone Can Make Change
This is part of a regular report from the North Haven Clean Energy Task force to share everyday ways to improve energy efficiency and save money while helping the planet.
Every day feels like Earth Day, with daily news reports about tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes, flash floods, freak snowstorms, droughts, and record fluctuations in temperatures around the country and the world.
But what does it mean to North Haven or Connecticut? Both questions were addressed during a town-sponsored Climate Change Forum that can be viewed on North Haven TV online (www.nhtv.com and search for “climate change forum”).
After an introduction by First Selectman Mike Freda, the forum included talks by environmental experts—Robert J. Klee of the Yale School of the Environment and Mauro Diaz-Hernandez of the Yale Center on Climate Change and Health—and Kenny Foscue, chairman of the North Haven Clean Energy Task Force.
Carbon dioxide levels, thanks largely to the burning of fossil fuels such as gasoline, are higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years, Klee said at the start of his presentation. The top 10 producers of these greenhouse gases (China is first, followed by the U.S. and then European nations) account for two-thirds of the carbon dioxide worldwide.
“Scientists have told us for a long time…climate change has begun and there are things we cannot undo,” Klee said, adding “this is a decade where [the right steps] really do matter.”
In Connecticut, in the last 70 years, daily temperatures have risen dramatically enough to effect Long Island Sound, so that Connecticut has “started to look more like Maryland than Maine in our fish.”
A recent survey, Klee cited, showed that overall local citizens are more aware, and alarmed, by climate change having been directly affected by hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding in the last few years.
People are more aware that “Our future warming depends on our choices today,” Klee said.
Diaz-Hernandez echoed Klee’s points in his presentation: “At this very moment…what we do, or choose not do, is not only going to determine what happens to us, but also the world that your children and grandchildren will be inheriting.”
Warning that global warming disproportionately effects low-income communities, children, older adults, and communities of color, Diaz-Hernandez outlined ill health effects that can be expected:
• Increasing temperatures; more frequent drenching, flood-producing rain; and paradoxically more severe droughts. These could trigger an increase in heat-related illnesses, including infectious diseases as mosquito numbers grow and anxiety rates in children.
• Flooding could overburden sewage treatment plants, contaminate water supplies, threaten the transmission of electricity, and destabilize some of the state’s toxic Superfund sites.
Each speaker, including Foscue of the clean energy task force, emphasized that everyone can make change in their own homes and transportation choices. For example, some 700 homes in North Haven have chosen solar panels through a town solarize campaign and about 30 percent of homes are more energy efficient after Home Energy Solution assessments and upgrades.