By Jesse Kharbanda, 11:53 a.m. EDT June 6, 2014
America’s – and Indiana’s -- history has been marked by a continual rising to great challenges, from the heroism of Normandy 70 years ago to our victories in our entry into space. That same dynamism must be our legacy on climate change.
Unequivocally, the Earth is warming and the climate is changing. And the world’s leading climate scientists believe with at least 95 percent certainty that man-made activity -- especially fossil fuel use and deforestation -- is the dominant cause of this warming since the mid-1950s. Indiana will not be immune to climate change. The Midwest section of the National Climate Assessment, whose lead author is an Indiana University professor, predicts more frequent heat waves, more algae blooms, degraded air and water quality, and increased flooding in the Midwest – all of which will affect our economy and health.
IndianaDG Editor's Note:
Climate Change Impacts in the United States, Chapter 18 Midwest
Dr. Sara C. Pryor is one of the convening lead authors of this report. Sara C. Pryor is Provost Professor of Atmospheric Science in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University-Bloomington.
Climate change will take decades to tackle and will require significant international coordination. And in that backdrop, America – the world’s preeminent innovator and historically its largest producer of heat-trapping gases -- must lead.
This past week, our country took an unprecedented step by unveiling a policy that calls for a 30 percent reduction of heat-trapping gases by 2030 in Indiana’s electricity sector. This goal should not daunt us.We know that we can tackle this issue through a variety of strategies – installers from Ivy Tech retrofitting our buildings and factories, graduates from Indiana Tech improving the efficiency of our power plants and transmission lines, and building trades talents constructing cleaner, low-carbon power plants. Rather than being intimidated by the array of work ahead, we embrace the challenge – business aces coming out of Butler, Kelley and Notre Dame figuring out ways to speed up the deployment of energy-saving technologies, and brilliant minds at Purdue and Rose-Hulman achieving breakthroughs in energy storage from solar power. We embrace the promise of alumni from Ball State, DePauw, Earlham, Franklin, Goshen, Hanover, Marian, Wabash, and other fine colleges enabling hundreds of our schools and congregations to affordably generate their own clean power.
To those Hoosiers who seek to tackle climate change, the opportunities ahead abound. Clean energy job growth nationally outpaced overall job growth by four times in recent years, and Indiana has the second highest job potential, per capita, in clean energy component manufacturing.
Yet, like the challenges that Hoosiers before us confronted, we will face a tough road ahead. Those challenges will require a willingness to relentlessly problem solve, brave the caustic words of others, shrug off indifference, elect leaders who take seriously Indiana’s deep well of scientists, and develop a deep patience to collaboratively address this multi-generational challenge.
I know that significantly reducing climate-harming emissions can happen in Indiana – and in a way that will spark new dynamism in our economy. Seventy Hoosier WW II veterans just visited the National World War II Memorial during this historic anniversary of D-Day; 30 astronauts can call themselves Hoosiers. We are part of the American legacy of taking on great challenges.
Kharbanda is executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council.