A Bad Case of Climate Change Denial

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Kevin Seraaj
Kevin Seraaj

Documented analysis of the size of the polar ice cap shows that they are shrinkinga in size.  According to NASA, “Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 12.85 percent per decade, relative to the 1981 to 2010 average.”  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that water levels rise as ice melts.  And ice only melts as temperatures go up.

NASA says that for as long as records have been kept, “18 of the 19 warmest years all have occurred since 2001, with the exception of 1998. The year 2016 ranks as the warmest on record.” (Source: NASA/GISS). This data is largely in line with the research conducted by  the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  

Sounds like a bad case of global climate change to me.

NASA is the world’s recognized expert in climate and Earth science.  While it doesn’t set climate policy it does make all the scientific data needed to understand climate change and its impact available to the global community.  Other scientific and planning agencies, policy-makers and decision-makers, and the general public around the world all have access to this information. 

In 2014, a team of more than 300 experts under the guidance of a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee produced a report that NASA says “was extensively reviewed by the public and experts, including federal agencies and a panel of the National Academy of Sciences.”  The full report can be found here, but perhaps most significant in terms of understanding causes and effects and solutions was this statement:  “Many lines of independent evidence demonstrate that the rapid warming of the past half-century is due primarily to human activities.”

If the activities of people are responsible for the decline of the planet’s condition, then people can change the projected outcomes by stopping the causative behavior.  This human-induced climate change is discussed by the report: 

“Residents of some coastal cities see their streets flood more regularly during storms and high tides. Inland cities near large rivers also experience more flooding, especially in the Midwest and Northeast. Insurance rates are rising in some vulnerable locations, and insurance is no longer available in others. Hotter and drier weather and earlier snow melt mean that wildfires in the West start earlier in the spring, last later into the fall, and burn more acreage. In Arctic Alaska, the summer sea ice that once protected the coasts has receded, and autumn storms now cause more erosion, threatening many communities with relocation.”

There’s more, but surely you get the picture.  Keep in mind that climate change doesn’t occur in isolation.  Instead the changes get stacked on top of other social, political and economic stresses and they create a whole new set of challenges calling for attention. As the report points out:  “Precipitation patterns are changing, sea level is rising, the oceans are becoming more acidic, and the frequency and intensity of some extreme weather events are increasing.”

Why, then, would some of the world’s wealthiest countries refuse to commit to more ambitious goals for reducing their climate-warming carbon emissions?  

It comes as no surprise that the United States is one of those.  After Trump announced a pullout from the Paris climate accord negotiated by former President Barack Obama, the administration has taken every opportunity to turn its back on meaningful stewardship of the planet.  Last weekend at COP 25 climate summit Trump’s people continued down the same path.  

Countries were urged to honor their emissions-reduction commitments, but three of the countries that pollute the most—  China, India, and the U.S.— said they saw no need to set more ambitious reduction plans for themselves.  In actuality, “The Three Polluters” effectively said: future generations and the planet be damned.  U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation, and finance to tackle the climate crisis.”

Unbridled U.S. pollution (we are the world’s biggest carbon emitter) has caused damage by way of climate change to a number of developing countries.  The U.S. delegation refused to even discuss the matter causing one delegation to say that the United States’ refusal to compensate other countries for loss and damage “could be considered a crime against humanity.”

Whether it’s reparations for the nearly 400 years of government-sanctioned slavery in this country, or paying for health care for all of its citizens, too many of the fat cats who end up in national office are opposed to paying out because they are only interested in feathering their own nests.  But lest we forget, none of them ended up in office because they elected themselves.  Like it or not, they are only a reflection of the collective will of the American citizenry.  Ultimately, it is “we, the people,” who bear responsibility for the things we like least about what our country does.