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Sunday, January 20, 2019

MOBILE, ALABAMA — There has been no need to unpack the winter clothes this year because we haven’t had winter. My second-grader goes to school every morning wearing a cardigan, but she greets me in the afternoon in short sleeves.

Here on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, we’ve had an endless spring of balmy, sunny weeks that were punctuated by a couple of days of January frost. On Christmas Day, Mobile recorded a historic high temperature of 80 degrees, which broke the record of 79 degrees that was set the year before, according to the National Weather Service.

So it goes across planet Earth. Last year was the hottest year on record, beating the record set in 2015. And 2015 topped the record set in 2014, according to NASA. Scientists say that this is the first time that temperature records have been broken three years in a row.

Down here, the sunny days are pleasant enough, but they portend calamity. There is no greater threat facing humankind than global warming. For all the time spent worrying about jihadist terrorists and Mexican criminals, they don’t constitute an existential threat to humanity. Climate change does.

The scientific consensus is clear: Soaring temperatures, caused by human activity, have dire consequences. Among those are more frequent extreme weather events, including droughts, flooding, wildfires, and severe storms. The United States has already experienced flooding and droughts, from the Gulf Coast to California, that foretell things to come.

But poorer countries, as seems to be their fate, will fare even worse, even though the wealthier countries — with their automobiles, air conditioning, and jet planes — have done the most to warm the planet. Droughts will likely be more severe in countries such as Ethiopia; the Maldives and the Marshall Islands may be swamped by rising sea levels and cease to exist, scientists say.

Of course, President Donald Trump has famously said that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. But the real danger that Trump represents comes not from his unhinged declarations, but from the policies that will characterize his administration. He has announced his intention to overturn several Obama-era environmental regulations, including one that bans new coal mining leases on federal lands.

Worse still is his stewardship of the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump has named Scott Pruitt, a climate-change skeptic who wants to destroy the EPA, as its director. As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt was in league with fossil-fuel giants whose goal was to defy every conceivable government regulation so they could pillage the planet as they pleased, recently released emails show. That includes the billionaire Koch brothers, who have done much to bend politics to their laissez-faire liking.

Pruitt and his allies would have you believe that the science on climate change is still in doubt, that the clamor over climate change is just noise from a group of leftist malcontents. Really? Consider the consensus from two groups that are hardly known for their liberal leanings.

The first is the property and casualty insurance industry, which conducts research to try to limit its losses from property damage. Last year, the Center for Insurance Policy and Research cited a study that found that “extreme weather events (such as prolonged droughts, hurricanes, floods, and severe storms) led to $560 billion in insured losses from 1980 to 2015. Experts predict climate change will continue to intensify the frequency and severity of these types of weather-related events.”

The second group that defies characterization as a bunch of tree-hugging leftists is the Department of Defense, which has described climate change as a “threat multiplier.” According to the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, “The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies and governance institutions around the world.”

When poorer countries are devastated by climate change — when droughts are frequent and severe and water and food are scarce — people will leave, seeking refuge in wealthier countries. The tides of refugees will not be held back, no matter how many walls we build.

That’s no hoax.

Cynthia Tucker won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.

IMAGE: Greenpeace

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16 responses to “Some Conservative Institutions Cannot Deny Climate Change”

  1. Thoughtopsy says:

    “The world isn’t warming because I hold a snowball in my hand!!”
    – Republican “Science”.

  2. Independent1 says:

    For the right-wingers posting on the NM, I just have just one question: What caused 120 of 150 Glaciers in Glacier National Park to melt away in 107 years when they had been on the earth for thousands of years without melting before these 107 years??

    Did some alien spaceship come to earth and with its ray guns purposely melt the glaciers?? What caused ‘The Big Thaw”??

    Only a fool could read the following article from the National Geographic and deny that global warming exists. But being the fools that your are, try to convince us that global warming is a hoax.

    The Big Thaw

    “If we don’t have it, we don’t need it,” pronounces Daniel Fagre as we throw on our backpacks. We’re armed with crampons, ice axes, rope, GPS receivers, and bear spray to ward off grizzlies, and we’re trudging toward Sperry Glacier in Glacier National Park,Montana. I fall in step with Fagre and two other research scientists
    from the U.S. Geological Survey Global Change Research Program. They’re doing what they’ve been doing for more than a decade: measuring how the park’s storied glaciers are melting.

    So far, the results have been positively chilling. When President Taft created Glacier National Park in 1910, it was home to an estimated 150 glaciers. Since then the number has decreased to fewer than 30, and most of those remaining have shrunk in area by two-thirds. Fagre predicts that within 30 years most if not all of the park’s namesake glaciers will disappear.

    “Things that normally happen in geologic time are happening during the span of a human lifetime,” says Fagre. “It’s like watching the Statue of Liberty melt.”

    http://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/big-thaw/

    • Charles Winter says:

      People believe what is told them by FOXNews and Breitbart. These outlets tell them that anything they hear from anyone else is a lie.

      How do we reach these people?

  3. Dominick Vila says:

    For Trump, global warming may be a hoax, the same way the media that broadcasts his statements and policies are disseminating fake news. Unfortunately, for all of us, regardless of political affiliation, ethnicity, or gender it is a reality that transcends what is evident already in the USA. The polar caps are melting at an unprecedented rate, to the point that the Arctic is likely to replace the Panama Canal as a link between the Pacific and the Atlantic in the not too distant future. Glaciers are melting, and many have already disappeared. Climate patterns have already changed, and drought are becoming more widespread and much more severe. Availability of potable water, and rising sea levels flooding coastal towns, will soon become the most important issues dominating discourse worldwide, and will very likely influence large human migrations and probably warfare as people try to survive with dwindling resources.
    The most pathetic aspect of those who continue to deny the obvious, against not only the opinion of most scientists, but evidence that should be obvious to the most casual observer, is that in the case of people like Trump, who prides himself of being a savvy businessman, preparing for the effects of climate change involves the creation of new industries, tremendous job growth, and a financial bonanza as a result of projects designed to save humanity, instead of those designed to destroy it.

    • Independent1 says:

      And why can’t the short-sighted, backward thinking conservative minds see what’s as plain as the nose on their face?? Only answer I have is MONEY – money from Big Oil and Big Coal and maybe other sectors is driving conservative politicians to lie about what no rational person can deny. What else could it be??

      • Dominick Vila says:

        Money, prejudice, religious zealotry, and fear influenced their decision to vote for Trump, and their continuing support. However, the most important reason for their willingness to sacrifice their values, and reject or ignore issues that should be obvious to everyone, is to achieve goals such as shifting the ideological leanings of the Supreme Court to the far right.

        • Independent1 says:

          Whatever the reason, global warming deniers are willing to put the future lives of their families, friends and descendants at great risk for some form of material gain. Not to mention the billions of peoples’ lives around the planet they are jeopardizing and the millions of jobs that could be created in working to mitigate the affects of global warming as you pointed out. Their actions are outright depraved!

          • Charles Winter says:

            Not material gain for themselves, but for the 1%. People were voting for a new aristocracy.

          • Independent1 says:

            You really think legislators are intentionally denying global warming when there’s nothing in it for them? I don’t think so. There’s millions of kickbacks flowing to them under the table!!

            People don’t risk destroying theirs and their families’ lives without some significant motive like money!!! These legislators are getting paid off big time by Big Oil, Big Coal and others!!!

  4. CrankyToo says:

    “President Donald Trump has famously said that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.”

    And Donald Trump is a hoax perpetrated by the Russians. All will be punished.

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  6. Charles Winter says:

    I grew up in Mobile. I remember one Christmas when we ran the air-conditioner. Now, it seems like that will be an annual occurrence.

    It’s a weird winter when your heating bills are lower than your cooling bills. We’ll be having more of those.

  7. dpaano says:

    Apparently, 45 doesn’t seem to care that he’ll leave a decimated planet to his equally spoiled and narcissistic son, Barron! He only seems to care about himself and has no feelings for anyone else!

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