Sunday, May 17, 2015

Message to political leaders on climate change: "Lead, follow, or get out of the way"

That's the bottom line of Laurie Jurs' column on climate change in today's GV News.

The willful ignorance of our Congressional majorities regarding science in general and climate science in particular is astounding. Elected officials with advanced educations and illustrious careers are currently making dreadful decisions. It’s time for them to lead, follow or get out of the way.

Effective problem-solving is not happening in Congress. Worse, there is intentional obstruction of needed research. The House Science, Space and Technology Committee recently approved significant cuts to the National Science Foundation’s geosciences program, the Department of Energy’s research into new energy sources and our National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s earth science budget. This is a big deal. Potentially useful data won’t even be collected. We can’t find things if we don’t even look for them.

But there is some reason for hope.

So is there reason for hope? Yes, there is. We are likely seeing the end of the "I’m not a scientist" dodge by politicians. Republican strategists know their own voters are getting out in front of the deniers and skeptics. A recent Yale University poll sampled 2,300 Republicans, finding that 56 percent of them support the regulation of carbon dioxide (the primary greenhouse gas) as a pollutant. This held true even among those who identified as part of the conservative wing.

And it is getting harder and harder to deny climate change and its effects.

It’s pretty hard to quibble with Tom Zeller (Forbes Magazine, January 2015) who wrote, "A record setting year every now and again is no big deal. Anomalies happen. But the fact is that all 15 years since the year 2000 have been among the top 20 warmest years ever recorded. The odds of this happening randomly, or as a part of natural variability? About 1.5 quadrillion to one."

And for another fact of climate change, see the next post.

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