Pennsylvania and Climate Change
The climate of Pennsylvania features all four seasons: crisp falls, very cold winters, pleasant springs and hot summers. Over the last 20 years, however, the features of the seasons have changed. The majority of winter precipitation now falls as rain instead of snow. Summers are hotter, while winter snowfalls are more unpredictable.1 Spring arrives sooner and fall is warmer. Pennsylvania is an important state because it is central to agriculture, energy production, and manufacturing. These industries form the base of the American economy. However, like the rest of the county, much of these are at risk due to a warming climate.

Pittsburgh’s Infrastructure at Risk from Flooding and Extreme Rain Events
Climate change is likely to increase precipitation in Pennsylvania, and the severity of individual extreme weather events is also likely to increase. This means that what once was termed a 100-year flood will become much more likely. And 10-year floods (likely to happen once per decade) will become more costly. A 10-year flood in Allegheny County – the county with the most infrastructure at risk to rising water – could cause more than $8.1 billion in damages.2

Sea Level Rise will Impact Philadelphia
Nearly four square miles of Philadelphia lie just 3.3 feet or less above high tide. This does not include low-lying lands near Philadelphia International Airport that were reclaimed by generations of Pennsylvanians. Rising sea levels and more dangerous coastal storms mean that the waters may soon claim them back.

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Agriculture Will Become More Unpredictable
While warming will lead to a longer growing season in Pennsylvania, an increase in extreme weather events, particularly droughts or highintensity precipitation, will make agricultural production more variable and unpredictable. Dairy farmers may face the greatest challenges: one third of Pennsylvania’s $5 billion in agricultural sales is dairy products. Above about 77 degrees F, dairy cows produce 22% less milk, severely affecting Pennsylvania’s competitiveness against more northerly states and Canada.3

Degraded Freshwater Quality
The combination of lower overall flows, higher water temperatures, and unpredictable runoff from extreme rain events are likely to decrease the quality of fresh water for both human and animal use. For a state that has been successful in returning its water to high quality, the effects of climate change will pose a new challenge. Degraded streams and flashier runoff would further increase water quality impairments in the Chesapeake Bay due to flushing of nutrients and sediments into the estuary.4

Building a 21st Century Vision of Sustainable Security in Pennsylvania
Southwestern Pennsylvania is a region that has been at the center of America’s national security for over a century. The region’s coal powered George Washington’s blacksmiths – and helped lead the industrial revolution that brought America to global prominence. The Homestead Steelworks on the Monongahela provided the steel that built America’s battleships and tanks throughout the 20th century. The Navy’s first nuclear-powered submarine and aircraft carrier were both powered by Westinghouse-built nuclear reactors in Pennsylvania. Today, we face new and different challenges; America’s security is no longer measured in guns, bombs, battleships or tanks. Security in this new era requires harnessing all of America’s strengths: the force of our diplomacy; the might of our military; the vigor and competitiveness of our economy; and the power of our ideals. It means we have to be aware of new threats; one new threat is climate change, partially caused by emissions from fossil fuels. A changing climate is impacting us worldwide and opening new areas, like the Arctic, to human exploitation – requiring a military presence. Changing weather patterns in Africa and Asia are creating new instability – potentially leading to new wars over resources. Extreme weather, like typhoons in Asia or hurricanes here are placing increasing demands on our armed forces to respond.

Fortunately, southwestern Pennsylvania is once again poised to lead the country into a new “21st Century” vision for national security. The booming production of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale is lowering carbon emissions, and safely extracted it could provide a bridge to the energy choices of the future. Then, the next generation of clean energy will be developed in laboratories, like Pittsburgh’s NETL, implemented by companies like PPG or Westinghouse, supported by leading non-profit foundations, and fed by the energy of nationally-ranked universities.

For More Information ASP’s “Pay Now, Pay Later,” a state-by-state assessment of the costs of climate change. “Pay Now, Pay Later: Pennsylvania” ASP’s “Climate Security Report,” which presents a comprehensive assessment of climate change’s danger to the United States. The report aims to move past the current debate about climate change and towards a real, informed discussion about its security implications—both global and domestic. “Climate Change & The Homeland”
Endnotes 1. Pennsylvania Climate Adaptation Planning Report, Climate Change Advisory Committee, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 2013. Available at: (accessed Feb 6, 2014) 2. Pennsylvania: Assessing the Costs of Climate Change, National Conference of State Legislatures, 2008. Available at: http:// (accessed Feb 6, 2014) 3. Hayhoe et. al. Emissions pathways, climate change, and impacts on California. Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, 2004 101 (34) 12422-12427; published ahead of print August 16, 2004. Available at: , (accessed Feb 6, 2014) 4. Pennsylvania Climate Impacts Assessment Update, The Pennsylvania State University, submitted to: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, October 2013. Available at: Get/Document-97037/PA%20DEP%20Climate%20Impact%20Assessment%20Update.pdf (accessed Feb 6, 2014)


The American Security Project (ASP) is a nonpartisan organization created to educate the American public and the world about the changing nature of national security in the 21st Century. Gone are the days when a nation’s security could be measured by bombers and battleships. Security in this new era requires harnessing all of America’s strengths: the force of our diplomacy; the might of our military; the vigor and competitiveness of our economy; and the power of our ideals. We believe that America must lead in the pursuit of our common goals and shared security. We must confront international challenges with our partners and with all the tools at our disposal and address emerging problems before they become security crises. And to do this we must forge a bipartisan consensus here at home. ASP brings together prominent American business leaders, former members of Congress, retired military flag officers, and prominent former government officials. ASP conducts research on a broad range of issues and engages and empowers the American public by taking its findings directly to them via events, traditional & new media, meetings, and publications. We live in a time when the threats to our security are as complex and diverse as terrorism, nuclear proliferation, climate change, energy challenges, and our economic wellbeing. Partisan bickering and age old solutions simply won’t solve our problems. America – and the world - needs an honest dialogue about security that is as robust as it is realistic. ASP exists to promote that dialogue, to forge that consensus, and to spur constructive action so that America meets the challenges to its security while seizing the opportunities that abound.

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