Trump’s recent decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord is bad news for Virginia’s economy. Our reliance on agriculture and the fact that numerous coastal communities (like Hampton Roads) are already feeling the harsh economic consequences of climate change make fighting climate change imperative for Virginians. (In case you’re wondering, we have warmed one degree fahrenheit in the last century, our sea level is rising one to two inches every decade, one of our islands is sinking into the Chesapeake, and residents in coastal areas like Hampton Roads continue to pay the price of flooding and property damage.)
But there are things that we can do. Here are three ways climate change affects Virginia:
1. Clean energy programs combat climate change AND create Virginia jobs.
The solar and wind industries are each creating jobs at a rate 12 times faster than that of the rest of the U.S. economy. Virginia is particularly ripe with potential growth in this industry. Just this year, the U.S. Department of Energy granted Virginia $500,000 to develop clean energy programs. Initial estimates indicate this grant could create 700 new Virginia jobs.
2. Combating climate change can mitigate the economic damage suffered by coastal areas like Hampton Roads and Tangier Island, to name a few.
Virginia’s coastal communities are subject to costly flooding and property damage as a result of the rise in sea levels that comes from the planet heating up.
Our rising sea levels—and the resulting erosion—could cause Tangier Island to be uninhabitable in the next 20 years. The island is literally disappearing in the Chesapeake Bay. (Trump’s advice to Mayor James “Ooker” Ekridge? “Don’t worry about it.”)
And there is widespread concern that Hampton Roads and other coastal areas will suffer economic harm as well. Case in point? The sea level rise in Hampton Roads “could increase the costs and economic damages from coastal flooding events by up to $100 million annually” according to a study conducted by William and Mary.
3. Climate change threatens Virginians who serve in the military—combating it lessens the risks for the men and women who serve.
Climate change affects our military’s ability to do its job overseas—including the men and women from Virginia who serve our country.
Recently Brigadier General Gerald Galloway, from the Center for Climate and Security, explained the threat that climate change poses our military: “If you can’t get your aircraft off an airfield because it’s underwater, if you can’t land troops in a foreign country because the beach you thought was going to be something you could land on is no longer there, then it’s a national security issue. If our allies are having problems in their own country as a result of such things as drought – where there’s instability in the country – instability breeds conflict. And conflict is what puts our forces at risk, and we don’t want that to happen.”
Virginia’s economy is also closely tied to our national military. In fact, Virginia has the highest share of military spending GDP in the nation—11.8 percent.
What you can do to fight Trump’s short-sighted climate change policies in Virginia
Ralph Northam (the Democratic candidate for Governor) supports current Governor Terry McAuliffe’s work on climate change. However Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate for Governor, has remained notably silent on climate change. It’s nice that his website shows pretty pictures of him in outdoor settings, but you might want to let him know that those pretty Virginia trees (along with Virginia crops, Virginia jobs, and Virginia’s coastal communities) are at risk if global temperatures continue to rise. And that his silence is an expensive proposition.
Call Ed Gillespie at (804) 340-6154 to ask him why he’s persistently silent on an issue that costs money and risks the lives AND the livelihoods of our community.