The woods are my place of solitude, a place where I am at peace and where I feel most alive. Each time I drink the coolness of pristine mountain water or breathe in the fresh sap of sun-laden evergreens, my worries seem to fade away. I feel content and free of all stress.
However, I worry that I may not always have this same connection with nature if we don't take immediate action to slow climate change. As temperatures continue to rise, our forests are changing and insect pests are becoming more of a problem -- for the trees and forest visitors.
Deer ticks are becoming more prevalent each day. Their range has become much wider due to milder winters. And deer ticks can transmit Lyme disease. Lyme disease can cause severe health issues, and in some cases, death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported annually, but the actual number of cases may be 10 times greater than that.
Poison ivy is also becoming more rampant as climate change tightens its grip. This itch-inducing plant thrives on high levels of carbon dioxide, growing in size and potency. The increased strength of poison ivy's oil, urushiol, is causing those who have developed an allergic reaction to experience an even more painful, irritating rash.
Now is the time to stop these pests from taking over the serenity of the woods by advocating in favor of the Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan is designed to reduce carbon emissions, the highest contributor to climate change, by 30 percent on a national level. But to ensure that happens without being derailed when the polluters' lobbyists hit D.C., we need to all give it our support. Please join with me in asking that all our elected officials support the Clean Power Plan.