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Feeling The Heat

Feeling The HeatAccording to a study released by an independent group of scientists—including Tufts' William Moomaw—climate change in the Northeast is inevitable.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [10.12.06] Based on the evaluation of new climate change models, a group of independent researchers—including William Moomaw, a professor at The Fletcher School and director of the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at Tufts—has published a study noting that even if carbon dioxide emissions are reduced, the Northeast is still set for a shift toward warmer overall temperatures due to climate change.

"If the Northeast were a nation, it would be the seventh-largest emitter of heat-trapping gases in the world,”Moomaw said, according to The Press of Atlantic City (N.J.)."While national policies are critical to the long-run solution, many of the actions that can be taken ... are with state governments, with employers and individuals."

The Union of Concerned Scientists and the Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment compiled the study, entitled "Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast," by scaling down global models of climate change and testing them against actual weather data, yielding what they call conservative projections.

They found that in a few decades, summers in the Northeast could be like today's summers in the Deep South, reported the Providence Journal. And if measures are taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the report continued, summers in the Northeast would still be as warm as summers in the Chesapeake Bay region. Climate change would also cause shorter, wetter winters and more intense storms.

"If we wanted to turn this around, it may well take several hundred years," Moomaw said, according to the Times Herald-Record (N.Y.). And while he adds that some damage, such as the melting of the polar ice caps, is difficult to reverse, there is still a chance to undo some of the changes that have already occurred.

"I can guarantee you that what we're doing right now is adding fuel to the fire," he said, according to the Hartford Courant. "There are lots and lots of things that can be done," he added.

The Courant reported Moomaw as saying that lowering carbon dioxide emissions by three percent annually can be accomplished if action is taken now. Simple steps, the Concord (N.H.) Monitor reported, include driving 30 fewer miles per month for a year or replacing three ordinary light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.

Driving hybrid cars, utilizing biofuels and upgrading to energy-efficient appliances will also help reduce harmful emissions. Governments and businesses, Moomaw added, can help by supporting energy-efficient policies, promoting wind power, boosting public transit, executing better land planning, stronger building codes for new construction and retrofitting buildings to be more energy efficient.

“The revolution that we are proposing can be done step by step,”Moomaw said, according to The Press. “This is a far smaller energy revolution than [the one] that occurred 100 years ago when we shifted to automobiles and electricity.”

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