“Since 1895, Lancaster County has warmed 50% more than the continental U.S. average, according to data compiled by The Washington Post,” LNP’s Tim Stuhldreher wrote in an article that appeared on LancasterOnline Thursday. According to federal data, Lancaster County’s temperatures rose about 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, versus 1.8 F for the United States as a whole. The data indicates that the Northeast U.S. is warming “especially fast,” the Post reported.
This shouldn’t surprise us.
The average temperature is rising globally.
It’s rising here in Lancaster.
It’s going to continue rising.
In its Aug. 13 report, the Post points out that while warming is uneven across the continental U.S., the Northeast is experiencing some of the largest temperature jumps and “greatest impacts” of the ongoing climate crisis.
“When we examined the data more closely, it became clear that winter is the fastest-warming season in the Northeast, consistent with the expectations of climate scientists,” the Post reported. “We also found that the pace of warming over the past 60 years or so has accelerated.”
Farming in Lancaster County — so crucial to the fabric of our lives — is being impacted. As the Post notes: “In the Northeast, changes are being felt in agriculture — which is witnessing a strong shift of the seasons and of winter most of all — and in greater pressure from insects, such as ticks and agricultural pests, which plague humans and wildlife alike. And that barely scratches the surface.” As we know, too, Lancaster County had its wettest year in recorded history in 2018, with more than 60 inches of rainfall. More heat, more rain — our farmers are feeling pressure from multiple aspects of the climate crisis.
And these problems are not just affecting Lancaster County.
Globally, last month was the hottest month on Earth in 140 years of record-keeping, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed. “The continent of Africa experienced its hottest month on record, and countries across Europe — including France, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, and Luxembourg — experienced the hottest days in their nations’ history,” Time magazine wrote.
Accepting, understanding and combating the existential threat of the climate crisis is crucial.
That last part — combating this threat — is the most important. We must continue to urge our leaders to enact and support sweeping initiatives to counteract the human-made aspects of global heating.
We must set examples in our daily lives. As we wrote in December, “we must change our consumption habits, pivot toward renewable energy and be willing to make inconvenient adjustments to our fossil-fueled lifestyles.”
And we need action from local, state and federal governments.
We were heartened by the recent unveiling of the City of Lancaster Municipal Operations Climate Action Plan, which “calls for city government to reduce carbon emissions from everything it does — from lighting streets to treating wastewater to fighting fires — by a full 79% by 2025.”
Statewide, we want Harrisburg to take legislative action that supports and advances Gov. Tom Wolf's January executive order calling for the state to achieve a 26% reduction of net greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and an 80% reduction of net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Our lawmakers should focus on a broader, greener energy strategy for the commonwealth over the next decades; we need legislation for aggressively limiting pollution and encouraging investment in zero-emission energy.
And we applaud the “Zero Waste PA” package of bills put forth by some state House members that’s “aimed at addressing single-use plastics, pervasive issues of litter and the various environmental harms caused by a ‘throwaway’ society.” These measures — actions that can inspire us in our everyday lives, too — add up.
Nationally, we want our lawmakers in Washington to debate and consider the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act and the Green New Deal. As we have stated previously, they might not yet be perfect proposals, but they are serious attempts to address serious issues. We also need robust conversations about the climate proposals put forth by the 2020 presidential candidates.
About 59% of Americans support a Green New Deal-style package of climate investment and regulation, according to a June poll from YouGov and Data for Progress. It seems we’ve reached a tipping point, finally, in our general agreement as a nation that prompt and significant action is needed to combat the climate crisis.
Now we must take that action.
Community Basics’ nearly 20-year effort to develop a largely vacant Lancaster city peninsula formed by the Conestoga River has ended with nothing to show for it.
“Just over a month after winning a key approval for a long-planned 300-unit residential development on the Sunnyside peninsula in southeast Lancaster,” Community Basics is “throwing in the towel,” LNP’s Chad Umble reported Aug. 10.
In a statement, Community Basics executive director Lisa Greener said the nonprofit “has determined the project’s remaining hurdles are insurmountable and the project is unable to come to fruition.”
While this might seem like a frustrating outcome after two decades, we see it as a fresh opportunity.
The complicated attempt to build a mix of single-family homes, duplexes and apartments had tied up the 75-acre peninsula — which is now owned by Lancaster city — since 2001.
Now, the door is open for new ideas.
“At this time, the City intends to hit pause and reassess the future of Sunnyside given that the City will continue to retain ownership,” Lancaster city Mayor Danene Sorace stated in a news release.
We think that’s good news, and hope that creative ideas that move the city and its residents forward can emerge.