EPA Finds Greenhouse Gases Pose a Threat to Public Health
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published findings of a study on Friday, suggesting that climate change endangers public health and welfare. The landmark findings could be the basis for federal regulation of CO2.
The proposed endangerment findings, which will now move to a public comment period, also state, “In both magnitude and probability, climate change is an enormous problem. The greenhouse gases that are responsible for it endanger public health and welfare within the meaning of the Clean Air Act.”
Chief among the findings is that global climate change has the potential to make U.S. air quality management more difficult, and therefore future air quality management decisions should begin to account for the impacts of climate change.
“This finding confirms that greenhouse gas pollution is a serious problem now and for future generations. Fortunately, it follows President Obama’s call for a low carbon economy and strong leadership in Congress on clean energy and climate legislation,” said Administrator Lisa P. Jackson in a statement.
In proposing the finding, Administrator Jackson also took into consideration the impacts of climate change on national security and the disproportionate impacts of climate change on vulnerable segments of the population like the poor, elderly, very young and disabled.
The scientific analysis also confirms that climate change impacts human health in several ways including higher concentrations of ground-level ozone, a harmful pollutant. The endangerment finding also suggests additional impacts of climate change include:
· increased drought;
· more heavy downpours and flooding;
· more frequent and intense heat waves and wildfires;
· greater sea level rise;
· more intense storms; and
· harm to water resources, agriculture, wildlife and ecosystems.
Led by EPA’s Global Change Research Program and EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, the effort represents the first systematic attempt to use linked global-to-regional climate and air quality modeling systems from multiple research groups to jointly investigate the regional dimensions of potential climate-induced air quality changes across the United States.