COLUMBIA - This October on Show Me Climate I've been talking with a climate scientist from Yale University on a range of subjects. We've discussed how Americans' opinions on climate change is shifting, what science tells us needs to happen in order to slow our rapidly changing climate, and small, simple ways we can all make a difference in our day-to-day lives.
The wide-ranging issue of climate change is increasing. For my final chat with Yale University climate scientist Jenn Marlon I ask arguably two of the biggest questions scientists can answer in 2020.
KENTON GEWECKE: How worried do you think we should be (about our rapidly changing climate)?
JENN MARLON: I think this is the greatest threat that humanity has faced today. I think we should be worried. But there's a difference between being alarmed and being alarmist. Okay, so the planet is going to survive. We're not talking about the end of the planet. But we are talking about the end of many species if we don't change, and we are talking about the massive migration of people from coastal cities inland, if we don't reduce our emissions. We're talking - our infrastructure in our towns and cities is already crumbling and aging. And so when you make hurricanes worse, and flooding worse, on top of the problems we already have, this is a recipe for massive economic damages and fall out that we should really be working hard to avoid, and we can avoid it. But we need more electric vehicle charging stations, for example. And that takes coordinated government action to implement so that we can transition away from putting gas in our cars to charging them. We need the infrastructure to support those changes.
KENTON: That leads me to, then, for that infrastructure, right, you were just talking about the government. So therefore, how important is Election Day?
JENN: Election Day is incredibly important. And if you care about climate, which is affecting everything we do now, not just polar bears and melting ice, it's affecting local flooding, it's affecting our bridges and tunnels, it's affecting our health, because hotter days mean that you have more asthma in a place that has any sort of pollution already and it causes plants to produce more pollen, which makes allergies worse. So if you care about all these things that climate change affects, then you want your leader to have a plan, you want your leader to acknowledge climate change, and you want them to have a plan to address it and keep us safe and healthy. And so you should make sure that whoever you're voting for has a plan to deal with this problem, because it is a serious risk.
In 2020, there is no avoiding the politics of this issue. Given the other issues in the current campaign, this is one that won't go away after election day. So, I reached out to the candidates for governor, state senate, and our local congressional seat.
State senate candidate Judy Baker responded saying she trusts "the scientists on this one" and believes we need a "longer arc vision." She would also like to to see "more investment in public-private partnerships that innovate around renewable energy." Here is the brief interview:
Local congressional candidate Lindsey Simmons responded, saying she has been an environmental regulatory attorney since graduating law school. She says "there is a high demand for improved renewable energy resources and someone somewhere is going to create that supply and I would love to see that here in Missouri and bring great high-paying jobs here while we're solving a true global crisis." Here is the brief interview:
After this story aired, Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler spoke with a KOMU 8 reporter recently, saying "I don't know if (climate change) is man made, but I do think that man should take steps to make our environment cleaner." Rep. Hartzler also said, "I think that we should still have clean burning natural gas; we should use renewables, whether it be biofuel, wind and solar."
Rep. Hartzler's comments come amid 97% of climate scientists worldwide agreeing that our current rapidly changing climate is due to human activity.
In 2019 when Governor Parson announced his run for office he briefly mentioned his take on climate change mitigation policy. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Parson criticized national Democrats for the expansion of social programs and plans to tackle climate change through a “Green New Deal.”
We will add more comments from other candidates if they become available.