Commentary: By turning to clean energy, we can fight the health impacts of climate change

NANCY GRIFFETH and VALERIE GRIFFETH / STAR-LEDGER – The two leading causes of death in New Jersey are heart disease and cancer, conditions made worse by heat stress and air pollution. Both diseases stem in part from particulate matter and ozone. Asthma, one of the leading causes of hospitalization in New Jersey, also is exacerbated by climate change.

These facts alone tell us we ignore climate change at our own risk, and that continuing to rely on fossil fuels for New Jersey’s energy needs is unsustainable.

The state Board of Public Utilities recently developed an Energy Master Plan to point the way to a clean energy future. The Plan included comprehensive modeling by the Rocky Mountain Institute to develop and analyze New Jersey’s energy economy and find a least-cost pathway to New Jersey’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% and using 100% clean energy by 2050. The analysis shows that a clean energy electric grid will provide reliable service and that having zero emissions is achievable …

Nancy Griffeth is a member of the Environmental Justice Task Force of UU FaithAction NJ and Professor Emerita at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Valerie Griffeth is a Clinical Associate, Department of Emergency Medicine, at the Oregon Science and Health University Medical School.

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