Here are a few facts to consider in the wake of the White House’s Black Friday release of the 1,600-page National Climate Assessment. The bleak report was originally scheduled to be made public in December but was moved up to a day when most of us are preoccupied with various distractions.
- Two government agencies, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, independently determined that the five warmest years on record all have taken place since 2010, and that doesn’t include this year, which climate scientists say is pretty much a lock to be the fourth-warmest year on record.
- July of this year was the hottest month ever recorded in California. Not only were the daily high temperatures breaking records, but the overnight lows were warmer than ever before. Since 2000, the pace of warming of California’s overnight low temperatures has accelerated to 1.3 degrees per decade. In that same time frame, 15 of the state’s 20 most destructive wildfires have broken out. Fire scientists and climatologists note that firefighters count on cool temperatures at night in order to calm a wildfire’s behavior. That nighttime climatological aid is withering.
- Wildfires are currently raging across the Australian state of Queensland. Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland’s premier, said the “fire situation is unprecedented for its ferocity, the low humidity, the extreme heat and variable winds.” Queensland’s fire and emergency services commissioner, Katarina Carroll, said, “In this part of the world we have not experienced these conditions before. It is unprecedented.”
So why do some, including the president of our country, push back against the science of climate change?
Casey Cox is a sixth-generation farmer in Georgia. Her family grows peanuts, sweet corn, pecans and timber on 3,400 acres. Last month, Hurricane Michael, the third-most-intense Atlantic storm to ever hit the contiguous United States, thrashed her family’s farm. Losses to Georgia’s farmers statewide from the storm stand at roughly $2 billion.
On Oct. 15, Cox met President Trump, tweeting at the time: “Honored to have been included in this group of farmers to meet @realDonaldTrump to discuss impacts of #HurricaneMichael in southwest Georgia.”
Cox believes in climate change. Not many farmers in Georgia do.
“I really wish that Al Gore hadn’t been the messenger,” Cox told the New York Times last month. “It just turned everybody off. It allowed people to say that it was just a liberal thing, when we know it is completely sound science.”
Enough with the politics. Our planet is in peril. We need leaders who acknowledge as much and are intent on doing something about it.