Kansas City has received a lot of positive press recently about energy efficiency and sustainability efforts: The proposed Jonathan Arnold development at 2nd and Delaware that will utilize 70 to 80% less energy than a comparable building. The announcement from KCP&L that they will install 1,000 electric charging stations in the
metro area. And KCP&L wasn’t done; it announced that it would cease burning coal at three of its power plants.
These are all great and important stories, but a sobering report recently released by the NRDC shows that we as a community need to do much more in order to minimize the impact of climate change.
The report, entitled “Climate and Health in Missouri” paints an alarming future for Missouri if changes are not made quickly. The report shows:
- Extreme Heat and Heat Waves will lead to Increased Illness and Death – Projections show that extreme heat events will become the norm. Look for days over 90 degrees to jump substantially. That in turn is projected to add to an additional 9,000 heat-related summertime deaths across St. Louis and Kansas City through the end of the century
- Climate Change will Worsen Air Pollution – Kansas City already has to deal with ozone alert days and could reach non-attainment standards by the EPA. That will only worsen if carbon emissions are not lowered. Look for higher asthma rates and health problems in the next century if pollutants are not contained. The study states that if Missouri were to reduce its particles and smog, it could save 1,200 lives and prevent 310 hospitalizations from 2020-2030. It would also lessen carbon pollution to limit longer-term climate change
- Hate allergies? Climate Change will just make it worse – Higher carbon and temperatures affect the growing season and range of plants. The bottom line is that more pollen will be produced over a longer period time. Ragweed in particular is cited as becoming more problematic
- Extreme Storms and Flooding will become More Commonplace – Kansas City has often suffered from flooding – the 1951 Great Flood and the 1993 Great Flood are the most extreme examples. Expect those type of events to become more commonplace. The report states that extreme rainfall has become 53 percent more frequent in Missouri over the past 60 years. Average precipitation in the state has increased by 2.4 inches in the past century.
- Insect-Borne Illnesses will Spread – Look for both West Nile Disease and Lyme Disease to become more prevalent in Missouri as both mosquitos and ticks will proliferate in the state.
- The Young, Elderly and Low-Income Populations will Especially Be Hit Hard – Climate Change will affect everyone, but will have an even greater impact on those most vulnerable. Hotter summers are especially hard on those who can’t afford air conditioning, or those who are very young or old.
The sobering report notes that these projections are not cast in stone; there is still time to make tangible changes to our energy use to head off these scenarios.
So while it is great to celebrate the great work that is happening in Kansas City, we should be reminded that we all need to do much more to head off the deleterious effects of climate change. The City Energy Project is just one mechanism to do so.