I love when spring comes to the Northeast, but this year, it arrived too soon. Temperatures in New York have already hit 80 degrees, and the flowers in my yard are blooming weeks earlier than usual. These warmer days mean more smog will be trapped in the air, making it harder to breathe for asthma sufferers like my son-in-law and millions of other Americans.
More people are starting to see the link between unseasonably warm weather and climate change. A new poll found that a large majority of Americans believe this year’s mild winter, last year’s scorching summer, and other extreme weather events are likely made worse by climate change.
Fortunately many people are turning that awareness into political support for climate solutions.
The American people have filed more than 735,000 comments in favor of the Environmental Protection Agency’s first-ever standard to limit carbon pollution from new power plants. NRDC and our partners delivered those comments to the EPA this week, and we expect to return again with many more before the public comment period ends in June.
These standards have garnered broad support because people know carbon pollution is destabilizing our climate and endangering our health.
Carbon pollution causes climate change, and rising temperatures make smog worse, and breathing smog can inflame deep lung tissue. Repeated inflammation over time can permanently scar lung tissue, even in low concentrations. Doctors, nurses, and public health experts say carbon pollution is especially dangerous for children, because smog triggers asthma attacks and can permanently damage children’s lungs.
The parents of children who have asthma know how frightening bad air days can be. Eileen Geoffrey lives with her family in Pittsburg, and her twelve-year-old son Daniel almost died from an asthma attack “that left his chest so tight he wasn't even wheezing.” Eileen has to keep the windows of their home closed on most warm days due to the air quality and its impact on Daniel's lungs.
Similar stories could be told by families of the 7 million children living with asthma in America, and that’s why so many are fighting to clean up our air.
We will have to fight hard, however, because deep-pocketed polluters want to keep pumping carbon pollution into the skies. American Electric Power, one of the nation’s biggest power companies, releases nearly 190 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2011. It also made more than $5 billion in profits between 2008 and 2010, and yet it has chosen to fight EPA proposals to limit air pollution instead of paying to clean up its mess, according to new analysis released by NRDC. The utility giant spent more than $21 million lobbying Congress over the last two years, including efforts to block the EPA from moving forward with clean air safeguards.
To combat this dirty influence, ordinary Americans must raise their voices. Nurses, doctors, public health experts, union workers, religious groups, Latino organizations, and countless others have thrown their support behind limiting carbon pollution. Small business owners have too: a recent poll found that 76 percent favor the EPA’s new limit on carbon.
I urge you to add your voice to the growing chorus. Click here to tell our leaders the time has come to hold polluters accountable for interfering with our climate and fouling our air.