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Idea of the Day: How to Reduce Pollution and Address Climate Change

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In a speech on climate change at Georgetown University yesterday, President Barack Obama announced a comprehensive “Climate Action Plan” to reduce U.S. pollution responsible for climate change, better coordinate international efforts to solve the problem of climate change, and provide additional protection from the effects of climate change that have already begun. This plan comes not a moment too soon, since the effects of climate change are already being felt across the United States and the rest of the world.

In 2011 and 2012 the United States experienced 25 extreme weather events—storms, floods, droughts, heat waves, and wildfires—that each caused at least $1 billion in damages, with a total price tag of $188 billion. These events also claimed more than 1,100 lives. What’s more, the federal government has spent $136 billion over the past three years to help communities recover from these disasters—about $400 per household annually. Around the world, extreme weather events displaced 32 million people in 2012, causing not only tremendous human suffering but exacerbating global security concerns as well.

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