LI Consequences of Global Warming

from the Long Island Energy & Environment Roundtable

  • Sea level rise and coastal flooding will have serious economic impacts as we attempt to protect low-lying properties and transportation infrastructure such as roads, airports, and train lines, and as insurance companies are restricting coverage for damage from weather-related events near the shore.
  • Long Island is already seeing an alteration of species in our bays and estuaries, with the growing frequency of new warm water species, such as the invasive sea squirt, and reductions in colder water species such as lobsters, historically a part of the local fishing economy.
  • It is predicted that the New York climate may be more like that of South Carolina today by the end of this century if we do nothing to curb our greenhouse gas emissions. 2006 was the warmest year on record for theUnited States. Long Island is known for its vineyards and farms, but climate changes may have economic impacts on local winemaking and agriculture.
  • Wind speeds of hurricanes, which become more intense as oceans warm, have increased about 50% in the past 50 years. Meteorologists have warned that Long Island is due for a strong hurricane, possibly category 3, meaning wind speeds of 111-130 mph.

Burning fossil fuels for energy not only produces climate-altering greenhouse gases, but also air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx) which form smog, and particulates. Air pollution monitors in Suffolk County indicate that it has the second worst ozone problem in the state. At the end of 2004, Nassau and Suffolk were designated nonattainment areas for EPA’s health-based standards for fine particle pollution.8 Asthmatics are at a greater risk from the effects of air pollution, and Long Island has a 7.9% rate of childhood asthma.

The deposition of air pollutants also contaminates surface water bodies, thereby adversely impacting wildlife, habitat, and human consumption of certain fish and other aquatic life. Older power plants adversely impact aquatic life through the intake of water for cooling purposes and thermal pollution associated with cooling system effluent.

Despite the scientific consensus on global warming, and the increasing urgency of the issue, government is responding at a snail’s pace. Long Island is well suited to lead on energy issues. Long Islanders have a legacy of supporting environmental causes, and with high energy rates, support for addressing energy issues is strong. The LI Energy and Environment Roundtable supports the following policy initiatives as a call to action, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a cleaner energy future for Long Island.

More information on the Long Island Energy and Environment Roundtable

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