This month, Environment Illinois released "Feeling The Heat: Global Warming and Rising Temperatures in the United States." According to this report, 2007 tied for the second warmest year on record globally and was the 10th warmest year on record in the United States.
Locally, the 2007 average temperature was 2.2 degrees above normal in the Chicago area.
This is part of a national warming trend: Between 2000 and 2007, the average temperature was 1.7 degrees above normal in the Chicago area. Nationally, the average temperature during this period was at least half a degree above normal at nearly 90 percent of the 255 weather stations from which data was collected. The message of the report is clear: temperatures continue to rise here and across the country, and the time for action on global warming has arrived. We can start with the following steps: First, we must cap greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, the United States must reduce its global warming pollution by at least 20 percent by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050. A cap and trade system, supported by both presidential candidates, must be a top priority for the next administration.
We also must make massive improvements in energy efficiency, which will save families and businesses hundreds of dollars a year on utility bills. This means providing financial incentives for moving to energy efficient products and technologies - a significantly cheaper, cleaner, and faster solution for addressing energy demand than building new power plants.
And we must make accelerated development of renewable energy the centerpiece of our economic development policies. Our manufacturing sector of tomorrow is dependent on providing a climate for rapid growth of these industries today.
These solutions will not only help save our environment, they will recharge our sagging economy. The time to act is now.
Brian P. Granahan