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

Jul 19, 2019
Originally published on July 18, 2019 1:12 pm

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.

Here's an excerpt from the report:

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

1. An economywide price on carbon to help ensure that the costs 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 support investments in energy efficiency, low-carbon technologies, adaptation, energy rebates for low-income families, and transition assistance for fossil fuel–dependent workers and communities

2. A low-carbon electricity standard that helps drive more renewable and zero-carbon electricity generation and helps deliver significant public health and economic benefits

3. Policies to cut transportation sector emissions, including increasing fuel economy and heat-trapping emissions standards for vehicles (UCS 2016); increased investment in low-carbon public transportation systems, such as rail systems; replacing gas-powered public bus fleets with electric bus fleets; incentivizing deployment of more electric vehicles, including through investments in charg-ing infrastructure; and research on highly efficient con-ventional vehicle technologies, batteries for electric vehicles, cleaner fuels and emerging transportation technologies

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 and soils, including through climate-friendly agricultural and forest management practices

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

7. Measures to cut emissions of methane, nitrous oxide, and other major non-CO2 heat-trapping emissions

8. Policies to help least developed nations make a rapid transition to low-carbon economies and cope with the impacts of climate change.