In the past few weeks, there have been several definitive reports from the United Nations, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and various scientific groups, which highlight even more definitively that climate change is here, it is human-influenced and we need to increase our efforts to do something about. When scientists say we are 95% certain that climate change is human-influenced it is as close to slam dunk as you can get. Additionally, it was reported by yet more scientists, the western ice sheet in of Antarctica is irreversibly melting and will contribute more to sea level rise. And, the President’s rightfully spoke about the need to ratchet up some things we have already begun with respect to moving toward renewable energy and conservation.
The reaction from the right, whose efforts are funded heavily by the fossil fuel industry, is to draw yet another line in the sand inching their position back and attacking messengers, pieces of data and continuing the stance that climate change is not human-influenced. At a GOP US Senate primary debate in North Carolina, Speaker of the NC House,Thom Tillis, and his three rivals all raised their hands to the question of “who believes client change is not human-influenced?”
The other day, GOP US Senator Marco Rubio, who is a possible presidential candidate, stated that he did not believe that climate change was human-influenced. I find these stances amusing and sad on several fronts, especially from Rubio who should be appealing to a younger audience that is not buying the fossil fuel story. Rubio resides in South Florida and the Miami area is in great jeopardy due to sea level rise. The rising sea level has already infiltrated the water run off system from roads in parts of Miami. The sea water is coming up through the drains in the gutters and is increasingly flooded streets each time there are significant storms. It is so bad, that four counties in and around Miami have banded together to actively plan to withstand sea level rise with a projected budget of $200 Million. They have received national acclaim for addressing the issue now. *
Tillis, who is running against US Senator Kay Hagan, should not get off easily either as he has effectuated decisions that are harmful to our planet and state of North Carolina. On his watch, the NC General Assembly refused to accept a peer-reviewed scientific report that the sea level off NC coast would rise 39 inches by 2100. Similar reports were accepted in Virginia, Maine and Louisiana and the 39 inches may end up on the low side. Under Tillis’ eye, the NC General Assembly would only accept an 8 inch increase projection, based on looking backward at the previous 100 years. Looking backward is about as good a metaphor as you will find. The sad part is there has been a war on the environment in NC ranging from letting electronic bill board companies cut down more trees without permission to severely cutting the Department of Energy and Natural Resources, who was having a hard enough time governing coal ash dumps and other issues before the Duke Energy spill.
The stance on climate change continues to baffle me, especially when the evidence is piling up in front of your eyes. I left the Republican Party in 2006, with a principal reason being their stance on global warming. That was 8 years ago. What many don’t know is the fossil fuel industry had a concerted effort with a public relations firm to convince Americans that global warming was a hoax using industry provided data, data out of context and hired gun scientists. They did an excellent job in their efforts. Yet, there was no denying even in 2006, that global warming was an obvious problem. It was so obvious, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich did a TV commercial with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to say he was wrong about global warming. It should be noted when Gingrich ran for president in 2012, he said he was wrong to say he was wrong, a flip flop of global proportions.
Climate change is the greatest issue facing our planet. It is far more than sea level rise that we need to worry about. Forest fires will be worse, droughts will be worse, hurricanes hitting landfall will be worse and stalled weather systems will be worse. These are already happening. But, the scary part is palatable water will be a major concern, food production will be a major concern and the chemicals in the ground to grow food and stop pests, will simmer like in a crock pot making environmental healthcare effects worse. The remedial costs of fixing these problems once occurred will far exceed the costs of proactively addressing the issues now.
For supposedly reasonable candidates to say that we are not influencing climate change is harmful to Americans and all earthlings. It does a disservice to people and we need to challenge them on why they believe the way they do. It is that important.
* Here is a link to a post I wrote on the Miami planning for sea level encroachment.