Clean Energy Improves the Health of Virginia’s Children

BY ON February 25, 2016

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This is written by Moms Clean Air Force’s Manager of Field Operations Terra Pascarosa Duff:

As a mom and Virginian, I am disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision to pause the implementation of America’s Clean Power Plan while litigation proceeds. Our country urgently needs to move forward with plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. This form of pollution poses a serious threat to the health of my young son Brady, and to all of our children.

Carbon pollution intensifies chronic lung conditions and life-threatening respiratory illnesses. It also contributes to climate change, which leads to additional health and security threats. We need to reduce carbon pollution by ramping up our use of clean, renewable energy sources to protect our children from climate change.

Children’s young bodies are more susceptible than adults to their surrounding environment. According to the World Health Organization, over 80 percent of climate change-related health problems affect kids ages five and under. (Tweet this) Children usually spend more time outdoors than adults, increasing their exposure to pollutants. Furthermore, children’s bodies are still developing and changing. During their first five years of life, children’s tiny lungs are developing at much faster rates than adults. That’s why children are at high risk of developing respiratory illness from air pollution.

But respiratory illness isn’t the only health impact of carbon pollution from dirty, polluting power sources. Climate change leads to hotter temperatures, sea level rise, more frequent flooding, and more extreme storms. Here in Virginia, we are seeing the impacts already. Sea level rise flooding occurs on a regular basis in Hampton Roads during full moons and high tides. Sea level rise impedes parents from working, children from going to school, and churches from holding their services. Climate disruption may change the range and incidence of infectious diseases, such as Lyme disease, Zika virus, and West Nile. Heat waves have been linked to infant mortality due to infants’ inability to thermoregulate.

While everyone will benefit from reduced carbon pollution, children, the elderly, and people with respiratory illness will benefit the most. The American Lung Association’s 2015 State of the Air Report indicated that there are already 163,942 children and 557,674 adults with asthma in the Commonwealth. These individuals are extremely vulnerable during high ozone days to asthma attacks and hospitalizations.

We already have a viable solution to air pollution and climate disruption: Clean and renewable energy. Reducing emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants by increasing our reliance on reliable wind, solar, and energy efficiency will significantly reduce air pollution and slow the rise of global temperatures. Despite what skeptics claim, wind and solar are a viable option for our state. In fact, our neighboring states, Maryland and North Carolina, are already capitalizing on the economic and health benefits clean energy has to offer. If they can do it, so can Virginia.

America’s Clean Power Plan is a major step in the right direction. America’s Clean Power Plan is the first federal regulation cutting carbon emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants, which contribute nearly one-third of all United State greenhouse gas pollution. Under the plan, states may develop and implement their own individual state plans to reach carbon reduction goals. In Virginia, that will mean increasing our renewable energy sources and energy efficiency initiatives.

It’s a shift that will be well worth it. If America’s Clean Power Plan is successfully implemented in the United States, over 100,000 asthma attacks per year could be prevented. America’s Clean Power Plan will cut the carbon pollution emissions that cause climate change while also preventing asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses, missed school and work days, and premature deaths.

 

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TOPICS: Children's Health, Clean Air Rules and Regulations, Climate Change, Politics, Renewable Energy, Virginia