Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Republicans arise! Your constituents are fired up

They are because of fires and floods and more and bigger storms - it’s called climate change and the GOPlins in Congress need to get their sh!t together and stop with the denials.

So, hey, kids. It’s panic button time. This morning 538, in its significant digits email, reported on two signs of global warming.

2 degrees Celsius
The average temperature of New Jersey has climbed nearly 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) since 1895, double the average rise of the rest of the continental United States. That number — 2 degrees — “has emerged as a critical threshold for global warming” and indeed the signatories to the 2015 Paris accord agreed that urgent action was needed to keep warming “well below” that level. But along with New Jersey, an analysis of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data reveals that 71 counties have already crossed the 2-degree mark. [The Washington Post]

300 miles away
Following wildfires there last month, rare lightning has also recently struck the Arctic. Thunderstorms require air that’s, like, warm. Yet multiple lightning strikes were detected “within 300 miles of the North Pole,” according to the National Weather Service. “This is one of the furthest north lightning strikes in Alaska forecaster memory,” the NWS said. [USA Today]

The warming of America

In 2°C: BEYOND THE LIMIT the Post shows that Extreme climate change has arrived in America.

LAKE HOPATCONG, N.J. — Before climate change thawed the winters of New Jersey, this lake hosted boisterous wintertime carnivals. As many as 15,000 skaters took part, and automobile owners would drive onto the thick ice. Thousands watched as local hockey clubs battled one another and the Skate Sailing Association of America held competitions, including one in 1926 that featured 21 iceboats on blades that sailed over a three-mile course.

In those days before widespread refrigeration, workers flocked here to harvest ice. They would carve blocks as much as two feet thick, float them to giant ice houses, sprinkle them with sawdust and load them onto rail cars bound for ice boxes in New York City and beyond.

That’s because a century of climbing temperatures has changed the character of the Garden State. The massive ice industry and skate sailing association are but black-and-white photographs at the local museum. And even the hardy souls who still try to take part in ice fishing contests here have had to cancel 11 of the past dozen competitions for fear of straying onto perilously thin ice and tumbling into the frigid water.

Over the past two decades, the 2 degrees Celsius number has emerged as a critical threshold for global warming. In the 2015 Paris accord, international leaders agreed that the world should act urgently to keep the Earth’s average temperature increases “well below” 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 to avoid a host of catastrophic changes.

The potential consequences are daunting. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that if Earth heats up by an average of 2 degrees Celsius, virtually all the world’s coral reefs will die; retreating ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica could unleash massive sea level rise; and summertime Arctic sea ice, a shield against further warming, would begin to disappear.

But global warming does not heat the world evenly.

A Washington Post analysis of more than a century of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data across the Lower 48 states and 3,107 counties has found that major areas are nearing or have already crossed the 2-degree Celsius mark.

So given that climate change is coming soon to a county near you, why are Republicans so silent? They have the power in the Senate to do something.

In The Republican Climate Closet Justin Gillis asks “When will believers in global warming come out?” (with thanks to our Roving Reporter Sherry)

For a political party stocked with people who deny the seriousness of the climate crisis, the Republican Party does some curious things.

Did you know, for instance, that a Republican Congress put an explicit price on emissions of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide? That was in early 2018. Companies can now get a tax credit from the United States government as high as $50 a ton for pumping carbon dioxide into the ground, instead of emitting it into the air.

For years, Congress has also subsidized the installation of low-emission sources of electricity like solar panels and wind turbines, a policy that has helped scale the market and drive their cost down drastically. More recently, it has offered tax incentives for the purchase of electric cars, and their costs are falling, too. Some of these policies were originally adopted when Congress was controlled by the Democrats, but the Republicans declined to kill them in the years when they held both houses.

A huge extension of the wind and solar tax breaks passed Congress in late 2015. Like most of these policies, it sailed through with votes from both parties and little public fighting.

… with Republicans in full control of Congress, you can bet those measures would not have gotten through unless senior people in the party had wanted it to happen.

Because so much else was wrapped up in these bills, you didn’t read or hear much about the buried climate policy. That, you might have already guessed, was one of the goals.

What exactly is going on here?

I got my first clue a decade ago, over lunch in Washington. I had just sat down with an eminent figure in the Republican Party to discuss global warming. As a condition of the chat, he made me pledge I would never print his name in association with the remarks he made.

We ordered our iced teas, and he looked me in the eye.

“We know this problem is real,” he said, or words to that effect. “We know we are going to have to do a deal with the Democrats. We are waiting for the fever to cool.”

He meant the fever in the Republican base, then in full foaming-at-the-mouth, Tea Party mode. Denial of climate change was an article of faith in the Tea Party, and lots of Republican officeholders who had been willing to discuss the problem and possible solutions just a few years earlier had gone into hiding.

… Lots of Republicans know in their hearts that this problem is real. I hereby posit the existence of something you might call the Republican climate closet.

Over the past decade, as denial of climate change became a central feature of Republican political identity, lots of smart people in that party felt obliged to shut their mouths. Yet in that same decade, it became more and more obvious to the public at large that we really do have a crisis on our hands.

… Lurking below the surface of our ugly politics is, I believe, a near consensus to do something big on climate change.

Yet we can never get there as long as a large majority of Republicans hide in that closet. Even if Democrats take Congress and the White House in 2020 and push forward an ambitious climate bill in 2021, they are likely to need at least a handful of Republican votes in the Senate. We ought to hope for more than that. The policy will be more durable if it passes Congress with substantial bipartisan majorities, as all of our landmark environmental laws did.

The other key element here is that for this to work we gotta Dump tRump.

… Republicans — some of them, at least — are starting to sense political risk in continued climate denial. Their constituents, battered by the fires and torrential rains and the incessant rise of tidal flooding, are knocking on the closet door.

For those Republicans still cowering in the closet, I have a question: If we really decided to commit the nation in all its might to solving this problem, do you not believe that American ingenuity and American industry could get the job done?

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