Silence From State Officials On Dire New Climate Report


Thursday, November 29th 2018, 11:17 am
By: Grant Hermes


Longer, hotter summers, the spread of dangerous disease and more unpredictable, damage causing weather events; those are some of the dire predictions for Oklahoma from a new national report on climate change.

The National Climate Assessment is mandated by Congress for the entire country. This report is the first time economic impact has been factored heavily into the report.

Scientists are hoping that playing to peoples’ pocketbooks will help sway climate deniers before the situation gets any worse. The overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree climate change is real and is largely caused by human activity.

With the global temperature predicted to continue to rise "quality of life in [Oklahoma’s] region will be compromised" the report says, warning of devastating impacts to food, water and energy reserves. Oklahoma’s region is specifically considered the Southern Great Plains which only includes Oklahoma and Texas.

On health, the report’s authors describe increases in heat illness and the spread of diseases like Rocky Mountain Fever, West Nile virus and the Zika virus. On the economy, widespread droughts causing devastating crop failure and strain on the energy sector as the fight for water becomes more extreme.

Then, there's the impact on weather. The report lays out predictions for extreme weather events that cause injury or force people to flee their homes "are likely to increase in frequency and distribution..." and "are likely to create significant economic burdens."

“This costs people real dollars. It costs the state a significant amount of money to try to recover from these types of extreme weather events,” Dr. Renee McPherson from the OU South Central Climate Science Center said.

Dr. McPherson was a lead author on the previous assessment and says Oklahomans have already been the victims of climate change and have already paid for damages caused by it, including tax dollars spent to repair after Hurricanes Harvey and Florida.

She did say it’s hard to attribute individual events solely to climate change, but over time things will become clear. She added because of that, changes need to be made now to improve the lives of generations to come.

 “This is for the lives of our kids and for the lives of our grand kids,” McPherson said.

The report, however, hasn't raised many alarms among state officials. When asked about the study, several agency spokespersons said they hadn't heard about it. Several including the State Departments of Health and Wildlife Conservation declined to comment about the report specifically.

Others, like the departments of Transportation and Emergency Management, both crucial to the survival of Oklahomans according to the report, said they're waiting on more direction from the Federal Government before making any changes.

Governor Mary Fallin's office said she is reviewing the Assessment.  Governor-elect Kevin Stitt did not return requests for comment. Several of the Oklahoma based authors of the current report but didn't receive calls back.

 

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