Climate change presents one of the most significant threats to water, wildlife, habitat, and the economies that rely on healthy natural resources. If cooperative international action is not taken to reduce carbon emissions at the pace and scale needed, people and wildlife in Illinois, across North America, and the world will suffer greatly from increased flooding, severe droughts, loss and shifting of habitat and migratory corridors, sea level rise, ocean acidification, loss of snowpack, increased wildfires, and other severe impacts. Addressing this issue is urgent. Science is clear that we have a limited window to reduce emissions before impacts become irreversible.
The U.S. has the potential to be a world leader on climate action by embracing renewable energy, pursuing climate adaptation, and ensuring that our wildlife and communities are resilient in the face of this challenge. Approximately 86 percent of Americans support speeding up the development and use of clean energy in the U.S. (Public Opinion Strategies 2016). The United States’ commitment to the agreement signals to the world that this is a critical issue and that we all must play a role in reducing emissions and shifting to new energy sources. The Paris Climate Agreement includes over 190 countries committing to reduce emissions. Taking a step back while momentum is building would hurt our country, reducing our credibility with other world leaders and compromising our ability to participate in the booming global clean energy economy. For diplomatic, environmental, and economic reasons, the U.S. must remain a signatory to the agreement.
Carol Hays, Prairie Rivers Network executive director