The State We’re In by Michele S. Byers, Executive Director, New Jersey Conservation Foundation Does New Jersey seem rainier than usual? Are the winters milder? How about high tide flooding at the shore? It’s not your imagination. According to a new report by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, increased rainfall, warmer temperatures and more coastal flooding are all happening right now due to a changing climate. The Scientific Report on Climate Change is the state’s comprehensive effort to gather the latest and most reliable information on the current and anticipated impacts of climate change. “Many of the impacts of climate change are already familiar to New Jerseyans, including increasing temperatures, rising sea levels, and more frequent and intense storms,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “As our climate continues to change, it is urgent that New Jerseyans understand what future impacts are likely to occur, and when.” Here are some key findings:
The report is a wake-up call for immediate action towards reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases like methane. Proactive and aggressive steps now will help to keep climate change impacts as minimal as possible. New Jersey cannot avoid these impacts, but taking action now can help keep them at the lower end of the potential ranges. The encouraging news is that New Jersey is already taking action. The state’s energy master plan sets a goal of 100 percent clean electricity by 2050, generated by solar and wind power.
Electrifying the building and transportation sectors and shifting away from fossil fuels will help. New Jersey can also employ “natural solutions” to climate change, using the ability of trees, vegetation and soils to sequester carbon. That means preserving as much forested land as possible, letting forests mature, planting native trees on fallow lands and in urban and suburban landscapes (and protecting them from deer and invasive species), restoring wetlands, and transitioning to sustainable agricultural practices that sequester carbon.
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The report also provides New Jerseyans with information to plan for the changes we know are coming. “This report will empower governments, businesses, and people across the state to better understand how climate change is impacting and will continue to impact all aspects of life in New Jersey,” said David Rosenblatt, the state’s Chief Resilience Officer and Assistant Commissioner for Climate and Flood Resilience at DEP. “The more we learn about and experience the impacts of climate change in New Jersey, the clearer our urgent need for resilience planning becomes.” To read the report, go to https://www.nj.gov/dep/climatechange/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery. And for information on preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at [email protected].