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Scientists Prod Politicians To Address 'Killer Heat' Before It Becomes Reality

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A report released this week predicts a lot more days of extreme heat - so much that they're being called "killer heat" days. We conclude our three-part series with a plea from scientists for politicians to do something - before it's too late.

The study, called "Killer Heat in the United States," was released in part to spur action on the part of both politicians and business leaders. Juan Declet-Baretto is one of its authors.

"The United States federal government needs to continue with the clean power plan and not dismantle it, as the current administration is attempting to do, to significantly reduce emissions from the power sector, which accounts for roughly 40% of the U.S. emissions footprint," he said.

The scientists are asking the federal government to not only wean the nation off of fossil fuels, but develop plans for people to adapt to extreme heat.

"I think a lot of people realize that these are real impacts - that these are happening now and that they are demanding that the leadership in this country takes them seriously and treats this as what it is - a climate crisis," Declet-Baretto said.

Declet-Baretto says the clock is ticking to reduce emissions. If nothing is done, he says we may have to get ready for an unrecognizably hot future.

Cities in the Southeast could face more days over 105 degrees
Credit Union of Concerned Scientists
The Florida Channel
Cities in the Southeast could face more days over 105 degrees

Here's an excerpt from the report:

To make these deep emissions cuts, the United Statesshould implement a suite of federal and state policies, including:

1.An economywide price on carbon to help ensure that thecosts of climate change are incorporated into our produc-tion and consumption decisions and encourage a shift away from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy options. Revenue from carbon-pricing policies can be used to supportinvestments in energy efficiency, low-carbon technologies,adaptation, energy rebates for low-income families, andtransition assistance for fossil fuel–dependent workersand communities

2.A low-carbon electricity standard that helps drive morerenewable and zero-carbon electricity generation andhelps deliver significant public health and economicbenefits

3.Policies to cut transportation sector emissions, includingincreasing fuel economy and heat-trapping emissionsstandards for vehicles (UCS 2016); increased investmentin low-carbon public transportation systems, such as railsystems; replacing gas-powered public bus fleets withelectric bus fleets; incentivizing deployment of moreelectric vehicles, including through investments in charg-ing infrastructure; and research on highly efficient con-ventional vehicle technologies, batteries for electricvehicles, cleaner fuels and emerging transportationtechnologies

4.Policies to cut emissions from the buildings and indus-trial sectors, including efficiency standards and electrifi-cation of heating, cooling, and industrial processes

5.Policies to increase carbon storage in vegetation andsoils, including through climate-friendly agricultural andforest management practices

6.Investments in research, development, and deploymentof new low-carbon energy technologies and practices

7.Measures to cut emissions of methane, nitrous oxide, andother major non-CO2heat-trapping emissions

8.Policies to help least developed nations make a rapidtransition to low-carbon economies and cope with theimpacts of climate change.

Copyright 2019 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.