Climate change debate days before 'March for Science'

Climate change debate days before 'March for Science' (Richard Reeve/ABC7)

Climate change. Two words, almost guaranteed to spark a vigorous debate, especially outside the White House.

“Very dangerous in my opinion,” says Nils, a Bethesda Resident.

“I think it’s a bunch of hogwash,” counters Fred Jalen, visiting from Wisconsin.

Climate change will be on the minds of many, as the “March for Science” draws an estimated 150,000 people to the nation’s capital.

Protesters are urging President Trump to take the issue seriously, and not pull back on environmental regulations.

“I think we should be paying attention, leading the world, instead of following behind,” says Craig Thompson, a District resident. “The carbon is coming in because of cars and automobiles.”

The Trump administration has come under fire for possible plans to drop out of the Paris climate accord.

That agreement allows countries to set their own goals for reducing carbon emissions, blamed for climate change.

The accord does have its critics.

“All of this again is trying to restrict the use of fossil fuels,” says Nick Loris, a research fellow with the Heritage Foundation. “(They) provide affordable, dependable energy—all for a change in earth temperatures, that’s pretty undetectable.”

Loris says the plan would cost the U.S. economy trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next two decades.

During the presidential campaign, Trump famously tweeted out that climate change was a hoax, invented by the Chinese.

Watching a climate change protest, consisting of about three dozen people, Jalen was not impressed.

“Factories have been around for hundreds of years,” he says. “Nature takes care of itself.”

On Wednesday, the American Lung Association released its annual ‘State of the Air’ report.

The study found four of ten Americans live in counties with unhealthful levels of air pollution, putting people at risk for ‘cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage, and reproductive harm.’

Climate change, the group says, is a major culprit.

“As you get droughts out west that create wildfire situations, dust storms, things like that--- these are showing up in the polluted air people are having to breath,” says Janice Nolen, the author of the study.

Nolen adds some levels of smog and particle pollution, or soot, are falling, because of regulations implemented as part of the Clean Air Act, now 47 years old.

She’s fearful about what could happen if the Trump White House guts the EPA, and pulls back on air quality regulations.

“We won’t have the resources to clean up pollution, we won’t have the laws to tell polluters they have to clean up,” Nolen says. “With climate change, things are going to get even worse, so we're going to need even more tools to reduce the kind of pollution that literally shortens peoples' lives.”

“I think it's all the factories, the cars,” Nil says. “I'm not going to be here to see it, but future generations are going to suffer a lot.”

Those who say climate change is a real danger that needs to be fought, hope the White House is listening.

“We do have responsibility of our footprint on this earth,” McCreary says. “I think we should be good stewards of the earth that we have, because our resources are limited, and it's our planet.”

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