Long Branch, NJ - Five months after Superstorm Sandy led to unspeakable losses throughout New Jersey and its Shore communities, a new Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center report finds that weather-related disasters are already affecting hundreds of millions of Americans, and documents how global warming could lead to certain extreme weather events becoming even more common or more severe in the future.
“Millions of New Jerseyans have endured extreme weather causing extremely big problems for New Jersey’s health, safety, environment and economy,” said Dan DeRosa, field organizer with Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center. “Given that global warming will likely fuel even more extreme weather, we need to cut dangerous carbon pollution now.”
The new report, entitled “In the Path of the Storm,” examined county-level weather-related disaster declaration data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for 2007 through 2012 to determine how many New Jerseyans live in counties hit by recent weather disasters. The complete county-level data can be viewed through an interactive map available on Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center’s website at http://www.environmentnewjerseycenter.org. The report also details the latest science on the projected influence of global warming on heavy rain and snow; heat, drought and wildfires; and hurricanes and coastal storms. Finally, the report explores how the damage from even non-extreme weather events could increase due to other impacts of global warming like sea level rise.
Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center was joined by Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6) and Belmar, Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty, and David Pringle of the New Jersey Environmental Federation in releasing the new report.
"I have no doubt that these more severe and frequent storms like Sandy are a consequence of climate change. I’m afraid the 100-year storm is now a 10-year storm, and New Jersey is in the line of fire," said Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6). " More frequent and intense storms, rising sea-level, and ocean acidification all spell disaster for New Jersey, and the state and the country must recognize these consequences of climate change and take bold action to mitigate the effects.”
Dan DeRosa noted that every weather event is now a product of a climate system where global warming “loads the dice” for extreme weather, though in different ways for different types of extreme weather. While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently concluded that it is “virtually certain” that hot days will become hotter and “likely” that extreme precipitation events will continue to increase worldwide, there is less scientific consensus about the impact of global warming on events such as tornadoes.
"Enough is enough. The science was already clear but Sandy brought it all too close to home. Climate change and sea level rise are real. They are increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather, said David Pringle, campaign director with New Jersey Environmental Federation. “The only thing esoteric here are the skeptics, the deniers, and the "I'm not part of the solution, it's not my problem" crowd. That kind of crowd is not welcome at the Jersey Shore. They need to get their head out of the sand, and help out or get out."
"After seeing first hand the damage caused to the property and lives of families in Belmar, I believe we must support initiatives and policies that address global warming,” said Mayor Matt Doherty of Belmar. “Congressman Frank Pallone has shown consistent leadership on this important environmental issue, and I am proud to support his efforts".
“Extreme weather is happening, it is causing very serious problems, and global warming increases the likelihood that we’ll see even more extreme weather in the future,” said Dan DeRosa. “Carbon pollution from our power plants, cars and trucks is fueling global warming, and so tackling global warming demands that we cut emissions of carbon pollution from those sources.”
Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center is calling on decision-makers at the local, state and federal level to cut carbon pollution by expanding efforts to clean up the largest sources of pollution, shifting to clean, renewable energy, using less energy overall, and avoiding new dirty energy projects that make the carbon pollution problem even worse.
The report was released two months after nine states announced a new agreement to make deeper cuts in power plant carbon emissions that would lead to a 20 percent reduction over the next decade. States are now revising their rules in order to carry out the agreement. New Jersey’s Governor, Chris Christie, has pulled out of the program. Environment New Jersey has sued the Christie administration for illegally withdrawing from the program and New Jersey state leaders are engaged in a vigorous debate about rejoining the program.
“In the wake of Winter Storm Nemo, Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Irene, New Jersey should be leading—not obstructing—efforts to reduce the pollution that is altering our climate,” said Dan DeRosa. “Governor Christie and New Jersey should rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Program, and lead the way in cutting pollution that makes severe storms like Sandy more likely in the future.”
Key findings from the Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center report include:
- Since 2007, federally declared weather-related disasters affected all 21 New Jersey counties. Recent weather-related disasters in Long Branch, NJ and up and down the Jersey Shore included Winter Storm Nemo, Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Irene.
- Nearly four out of five Americans have been affected by federally declared weather-related disasters since 2007.
- Records show that the U.S. has experienced an increase in the number of heat waves over the last half-century. Scientists project that the heat waves and unusually hot seasons will likely become more common in a warming world.
Other research predicts that hurricanes are expected to become even more intense and bring greater amounts of rainfall in a warming world, even though the number of hurricanes may remain the same or decrease.
Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center is a statewide, citizen-based, environmental advocacy organization working toward a clean, greener, healthier future.