By C. Forbes Tompkins, Kelly Levin and Noah Kaufman
During the recent confirmation hearings of President Trump's cabinet nominees, a familiar pattern has emerged. Many of them have acknowledged that climate change is happening, but each has then sowed doubt by either understating the connection between human activity and climate change or by suggesting that there's too much uncertainty to act. The overall effect of these statements is to confuse or stall progress.
Doomsday Clock Now Two and a Half Minutes to Midnight, Thanks to #Trump https://t.co/tKFbHoaDpE @BulletinAtomic #DoomsdayClock @billmckibben— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1485457381.0
The reality is that we know plenty about the role of people as a primary driver of climate change and government officials certainly know more than enough to act.
For example, during his hearing to become the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, Scott Pruitt claimed: "There is a diverse range of views regarding the key drivers of our changing climate among scientists."
Rex Tillerson, President Trump's selection to become the next Secretary of State, remarked: "I agree with the consensus view that combustion of fossil fuels is a leading cause for increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. I understand these gases to be a factor in rising temperatures, but I do not believe the scientific consensus supports their characterization as the 'key' factor."
5 Reasons #RexTillerson Is Unfit to Be Secretary of State https://t.co/3jwHuN84ED @foe_us @greenpeaceusa @SierraClub @350 @ClimateReality— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1485891917.0
Simply put, these views are not accurate and fly in the face of well-established science. The underlying research showing the connection between increasing CO2 concentrations and a warming planet was established more than 150 years ago. The statements above conflict with conclusions from all leading national and international scientific institutions (IPCC, NCA, WMO, NAS and UK MET Office) and they contradict the findings of the departments and agencies these appointees may soon be leading.
It is time for these leaders to look carefully at the climate science and establish policies based on the best scientific information available.
Here's a brief reminder of some of our fundamental understanding about climate science:
1. Global Temperatures are Rising at Unprecedented Levels
- 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have occurred this century.
- Average global temperatures have been above the 20th-century average for the past 40 consecutive years.
- Since 1880, global temperatures have risen by more than 1 C (1.8 F), while levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have increased from 280 parts per million (ppm) to more than 400ppm.
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By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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By Gloria Oladipo
In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air conditioned cooling centers. Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus.