UPDATE SEPT. 2009: State govt. still has done little on this front.
Representative Pricey Harrison
North Carolina General Assembly
For Immediate Release
May 3, 2005
Contact on the bill: Representative Pricey Harrison, (919) 733-5771
On the studies: NC WARN, Jim Warren (919) 416-5077
Studies show likelihood of increasingly violent weather and the state’s lack of advanced planning
RALEIGH – Today, N.C. Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) announced at a press conference that she will introduce the Climate Change Preparedness Reporting bill. Other primary sponsors include Rep. Susan Fisher (D-Buncombe), Rep. Phillip Haire (D-Jackson), and Rep. Alice Underhill (D-Craven). It would require certain state departments, divisions and agencies to report annually about their planning and other activities to better prepare North Carolina for the effects of global warming induced climate change on the state.
“Climate change from global warming is firmly established science,” Rep. Harrison said. “It’s happening here. It’s happening now. And it will get worse – probably considerably worse – before it gets better. We need to get serious and prepare for it in order to protect our families and our economy. This bill is designed to help get the state government to focus on doing exactly that.”
State Senator Ellie Kinnaird (D-Orange), a member of the State Energy Policy Council who supports the bill said, “Last May four top scientists from area universities told legislators that climate change is underway, and several have testified since then on the increasing dangers it poses for the state. This bill addresses the preparedness side of the problem, while the Global Warming/Climate Change Commission bill addresses the other side of the problem – our pressing need to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.”
The bill was stimulated, in part, by two new studies by NC WARN, an environmental group that works on nuclear safety and climate change issues. They were released at the press conference.
Jim Warren, the group’s executive director, said “these studies demonstrate that the State of North Carolina is on a collision course with the reality of global warming.”
NC WARN’s study, Global Warming Impacts on the Weather and Climate of North Carolina, was prepared by environmental engineer, Matthew Huxley, based on an extensive review of the scientific literature. It concludes that as a result of worldwide increases in greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide, North Carolina can expect to see not only increased temperatures but increased average precipitation together with lower rainfall in the summer and increased precipitation in the winter. This is likely to be accompanied by more frequent spring floods and summer droughts. Storms, hurricanes, and tornados, are likely to be both more frequent and more severe. Along the coast these are likely to increase the destructive effects of sea level rise.
Besides the direct effects on life and property, climate change is anticipated to have major economic effects on agriculture, forestry, wildfires, water supply, insurance rates, and the migration of more tropical diseases and pests into our state.
Mr. Huxley concludes, “The best case scenarios for the effects of global warming on North Carolina are bad enough. The worst case scenarios involve abrupt climate change effects that could be devastating to the state in the next few decades. Either way, the state needs to get very serious about both cutting greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for a hotter climate and more extreme weather.”
NC WARN’s second study indicates that state government is not taking the threat very seriously at all. Peter MacDowell conducted a survey for the organization of the relevant departments of state government to see what studies or planning they are carrying out with regard to the potential impact of global warming and climate change in their primary areas of responsibility. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Division of Air Quality is completing a three year study of CO2 emissions mandated by the Clean Smokestacks Bill and will formally present recommendations to the Environmental Management Commission on September 1st. The State Energy Office does have a state energy plan and has been pro-active in promoting and funding a variety of energy efficiency projects. However, beyond those efforts, very little is happening.
“Most of these state agencies have not been mobilized to study or plan for the severe impacts of global warming. They haven’t been given, or haven’t heard, the wake up call,” said MacDowell.
Jim Warren said “NC WARN calls for aggressive reduction of green house gasses with the primary emphasis on fossil fuel based energy use reduction while bringing clean renewable energy on line. This does not include nuclear energy – which is far too dangerous in this age of terrorism. But as we cut emissions, it is essential that the State of North Carolina get very serious about preparing its people, its governmental agencies at every level, and its industries for the major climate changes and the rough weather to come. Passage of this bill would be an important step in that direction.”