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Federal government should follow states’ leads to fight climate change, Mason professor says

November 29, 2018

George Mason University climate scientist Jim Kinter said the federal government needs to follow the examples of individual states if the catastrophic effects of global warming are to be averted.

His warning comes on the heels of last week’s release of the second National Climate Assessment. The federally mandated study, which was the collective work of 13 federal agencies, explicitly forecasts dire threats to the U.S. economy and human life from increasingly damaging hurricanes, dangerous heat waves and other catastrophes if steps aren’t taken to curb global warming.

“By clearly linking the economic consequences to the levels of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, this report elevates the urgency of pursuing more aggressive policies and incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that can reduce our vulnerability and enhance our resilience to the inevitable impacts of climate change,” said Kinter, the director of Mason’s Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies and the chair of the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences. “There are already many such mitigation and adaptation activities at the municipal and state levels, but the federal sector has pulled back.”

Kinter said that federal efforts should be reinvigorated in partnership with the states to increase mileage standards for passenger cars and rein in carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

“These are obvious actions that have already been discussed and established as reasonable and effective,” he said.

Left unchecked, global warming could spike the average temperature by four degrees Celsius and lead to catastrophic weather that results in scores of deaths and the loss of as much as 10 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product by the end of the century, according to the report.

“I have very little doubt that if humans continue to increase their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, we will make our own planet a dangerous place to live,” Kinter said.

Jim Kinter can be reached at 703-993-5700 or at ikinter@gmu.edu.

For more information, contact John Hollis at 703-993-8781 or jhollis2@gmu.edu.

About George Mason 

George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 37,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility.