Climate Action

Climate Change

In the relatively short period of time since the launch of the Industrial Revolution, humans have released an increasing amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and, to a lesser extent, deforestation and land-use change.
The current scientific consensus is the following:
  1. Warming of the climate system is happening and is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of glaciers, snow cover, and sea ice, and rising global sea levels and ocean acidity.
  2. Global GHG emissions have significantly increased since pre-industrial times, with more than half of all humanity’s industrial emissions of carbon dioxide being released since 1988.
  3. Global increases in CO2 concentrations are due primarily to fossil fuel use, with deforestation and land-use change providing significant but smaller contributions. The unambiguous long-term warning trend in global average temperature cannot be explained by natural factors alone. The U.S. Global Change Research program, independent of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), concluded in its Fourth National Climate Assessment (2018) that GHG emissions from human activities are the only factors that can account for the observed warming over the last century.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the last five years —from 2014 to 2018— were the warmest years ever recorded, with 18 of the last 19 warmest years occurring since 2000. Per NASA and NOAA reports, 2018 was both the fourth hottest year on record for the globe, and the third-wettest year for the U.S. since 1895. Weather stations throughout the U.S. identified 133 locations (across 21 states) experiencing the wettest year on record, with 685 experiencing a top 10 wettest year on record. Per NOAA, there were 14 weather and climate events that cost the U.S. hundreds of lives and $1 billion dollars or more, for a total of at least 247 deaths and $91 billion in damages. This followed 2017 - the costliest extreme weather year in U.S. history - with more than $300 billion in damage.
In Worcester we are, in fact, already experiencing the effects of the climate crisis in the form of changes to extreme weather frequency and magnitude – particularly heavy precipitation/flooding, extreme heat/drought, and ice & snow storms.

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Benefits of Climate Action

Energy efficiency, sustainability, and greenhouse gas emission reduction efforts yield numerous benefits to the City such as:

Saving Money: Using fuels and electricity more efficiently can lower operating costs and utility bills. The potential for financial savings is enormous for all sectors of the community, particularly those with limited incomes.

Improved Public Health and Livability: The burning of fossil fuels emits harmful air pollutants that can exacerbate health problems. Reducing their usage through improved efficiency and increase in the use of alternative energy will also reduce health issues associated with inhaling air pollutants. Encouraging walking and bicycling will cut transportation energy consumption, and improve public health and fitness. Planting trees cools ground summer temperatures and produces social benefits as well.

Economic Vitality: Increasing the use of renewable energy facilitates innovation, creates jobs, and over time makes emerging technologies more cost effective. With increased energy efficiency yielding financial benefits to builders and investors, the number of companies specializing in these fields in Worcester and throughout Massachusetts is increasing.

Improved Energy Security: Petroleum and petroleum-based products are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing petroleum use makes us less vulnerable to supply disruptions. This issue will be of utmost importance over the next few years as energy use in Asia and throughout the world increases.Credit: Erb Photography