Lehigh Valley

What climate change could mean for our region

White House climate change report under scrutiny

Washouts, dry spells, and wildfires--a new climate change report claims we're in for a lot more wild weather in our future.

Some call the report a big wake-up call, but others aren't buying it.

According to a new National Climate Assessment, climate change is already affecting Americans.

Diane Husic, a biological sciences professor at Moravian College, said the northeast will experience its own climate change challenges.

"We have to be prepared for the heavier storms, the flooding, changes to the coastlines," Husic said.

The report said the northeast will also have more heat waves.

John Cigliano, director of environmental conservation at Cedar Crest College, said people are already noticing changes.

"We hear it all the time: 'That was a really bizarre winter, or an odd summer'...This is the new normal," Cigliano said.

While Cigliano and Husic claim climate change is inevitable--they said it's not too late to prevent more drastic affects in the future.

"It's not a doom and gloom. We can work together and build resilience," Husic said.

Husic and Cigliano said changes to how we use and get our energy are a big part of building that resilience.

"An energy plan would be good to start thinking of alternative energy. Rethinking our transportation. Would be great to have mass transportation," Husic said.

"Anything we can do to reduce carbon footprints and increase energy efficiency," Cigliano said.

While both agree those steps would help, they also emphasize that they need to happen sooner rather than later.

"We can certainly minimize future changes. There is hope, but we need to act now," Cigliano said.

President Obama is pushing for stricter fuel emissions standards for cars and trucks and new limits on power plant pollution.

Critics argue that's a small drop in a large bucket. Others call the climate assessment "alarmist" and "overblown" and question whether humans are actually causing the changes.

According to a recent Gallup Poll, one in four Americans is skeptical of global warming.

"I just don't really believe in it....It's only what--120 years of weather records? I just don't think there's enough to prove it or disprove it," said Jason Christman of Zionsville.

Nearly 40 percent are concerned about it and believe humans are to blame.

"I think it's a real thing. I have family on the west coast. Explain to me why there's constant fires, flooding, and on the east coast all of our snow storms are coming back full force?" said Trish Christman of Zionsville.

According to that same poll, 36 percent of Americans have mixed views on the matter.

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