• Photo of Delegate Plum speaking to a gathering of Korean Americans.
    Delegate Plum speaking to a gathering of Korean Americans.
  • Photo of dignitaries at Reston Founder
    Founder's Day as Reston Turns 50

I am in my thirty-third year of service representing the 36th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. I am a retired teacher and school administrator, having been employed by the Fairfax County Public Schools for nearly 30 years. Serving as your delegate is now my full-time focus.

This website is intended to assist us in communicating with each other. I hope that you will subscribe to my electronic newsletter, Virginia e-News, that is emailed every Wednesday. Each week I share my thoughts on a pressing issue or human interest item in the form of a commentary. Read this week’s commentary below. In the newsletter you’ll also find a bulletin board of local information and a calendar of events happening in our community.

Please let me hear from you on your needs and interests. I am honored to represent you and here to serve you as effectively as I can.

Ken Plum.

Delegate Ken Plum’s Commentary

The Climate is Changing

August 27, 2014

Photo of Ken with former Virginia Senator Mary Margaret Whipple who is on the board of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.

Ken with former Virginia Senator Mary Margaret Whipple who is on the board of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.

“Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” according to a report, Climate Change Impacts in the United States, that was released this year and that includes the findings of 300 experts affiliated with the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee (http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/). Their findings are the same as I heard discussed last week at the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators National Issues Forum in which I participated (www.ncel.net). A couple of speakers brought unique backgrounds and insights into the issue of climate change. Retired Vice Admiral Dennis V. McGinn is a widely recognized energy and national security expert. He insists that climate change is a threat to our national security. Dr. James Hansen, formerly Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and currently an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, started in the 1980s raising awareness of global warming and speaks forcefully today of the need to take action to protect the future of young people and all species on the planet.

In legislative chambers in Virginia and throughout the country, climate change continues to be debated by politicians some of whom question whether or not climate change is actually occurring and whether humans have anything to do with causing it. Meanwhile, there is a clear conclusion among scientists as expressed in the Climate Change report:

“Evidence for climate change abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans. Scientists and engineers from around the world have meticulously collected this evidence, using satellites and networks of weather balloons, thermometers, buoys, and other observing systems. Evidence of climate change is also visible in the observed and measured changes in location and behavior of species and functioning of ecosystems. Taken together, this evidence tells an unambiguous story: the planet is warming, and over the last half century, this warming has been driven primarily by human activity.” (Page 6)

Climate change means hotter and more erratic weather, warmer oceans and fresh water sources, heavy downpours, global sea level rise, and reductions in glaciers and sea ice, among other changes. Shrinking land ice along with an expansion of the ocean as it warms and natural land subsidence that occurs along the coast will result in areas being inundated with increased episodic flooding. The Virginia coastline will be especially hard hit.

Actions can and should be taken by legislators to protect our communities, children and future generations from the dangers of climate change. We need to reduce harmful emissions for sure, and I have put a lot of emphasis in my work on renewable energy. We need to deal with big polluters some of whom receive government subsidies recognizing that alternative energy sources are becoming increasingly available to us from rapidly growing clean industries. Above all, however, politicians need to be honest with the public in acknowledging that the climate is changing, and we can do something about it!

For previous commentaries, visit the Virginia e-News archives.