A recent survey conducted by three Republican pollsters—Echelon Insights, North Star Opinion Research and Public Opinion Strategies—found that only 54 percent of Republicans believe climate change is real and that mankind plays a role in it.
A study from July conducted by the Pew Research Center put those numbers much lower: only 27 percent of Republicans believe climate change is real and manmade, compared to 71 percent of Democrats and 87 percent of scientists who are members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.) believes these numbers are a reflection of the Republican party and its propensity to remain stagnant on important issues that call for legislative action.
“There’s plenty of information, scientific information, that human beings are causing climate change, that’s it’s an issue we must address, that Mother Earth needs our attention," Gutierrez said in a phone interview. "The Pope knows it when he came to see us. He said, ‘The planet belongs to all of us and we should be good caretakers.’ What do the Republicans say? ‘It’s a hoax, we’re not going to do anything.’"
Some GOP leaders have begun to speak up in favor of taking action on climate change. North Carolina businessman Jay Faison, a self-proclaimed conservative Republican, has spent $165 million on ClearPath, a non-profit foundation aimed at promoting climate change initiatives that would appeal to Republicans. He has plans to donate another $10 million to lobby for these policies.
As the poll I just tweeted suggests, Republican voters want fresh ideas. Here's one: accelerate clean energy instead of the status quo!— Jay Faison (@Jay Faison)1449253025.0
Former governor of New York George Pataki and senators Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are among a few notable GOP leaders who have broken from the status quo of Republican climate denial.
Though the scientific evidence for climate change and the link with human uses of fossil fuels is widely accepted by the scientific community, the political parties remain starkly polarized on the issue.
“I think that in the House setting itself, the contrast of how our Democratic caucus approaches these issues compared to the Republican majority caucus, is our approach is about an all-of-the-above strategy, diversity in the fuel mix, accepting not only the reality of climate change, but working to impact human-inspired climate change outcomes,” Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), who serves on the Energy and Commerce and the Science, Space and Technology committees, said in a phone interview. “We contrast that with a 'drill baby drill' mentality of the Republican majority caucus. Drill more, wherever you can offer the opportunity and a heavy reliance on fossil based fuels, on oil and the continuation of coal.”
The agreement made at the Paris climate conference, which took place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, provides a great opportunity for the U.S. to affirm its status as a climate leader. Making climate change a more bipartisan issue at this historic time could serve as a catalyst to help move the international community to a climate solution, but a lot of ground needs to be covered in order to depoliticize the issue.
Tonko emphasizes the need for dialogue between parties. “I think we need to hear about ways we can transition or transform energy outcomes and equating that to a smarter, perhaps more cost saving outcome," he said. "We can do this by relating to one another that sound stewardship of the environment and creating jobs aren’t diametrically opposed, but that they are often addressed in tandem."
The Trans-Pacific Partnership also provides an opportunity for the U.S. to assert its leadership in global action on climate change. Negotiations between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim nations recently came to a conclusion after eight years , but President Obama faces a tough fight to secure ratification from Congress due to the shortfalls of the pact asserted by both parties. Environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace and Friends of Earth have criticized the agreement for its potential threats to the environment.
“I’m concerned that without across-the-board equal standards for environmental outcomes, it can set back the international effort,” Tonko said. “We need to make environmental stewardship and environmental standards part of the overall agreements so that we’re working on a level playing field and actually using trade opportunities to grow the carbon emission reduction agenda as significantly as we can.”
Watch Tonko offer his support for the international Paris climate change agreement in an address to the House of Representatives:
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They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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