Sean Davis

Six Facts from the Fourth National Climate Assessment

Global temperature anomalies for 2015 compared to the 1951–1980 baseline. 2015 was the warmest year in the NASA/NOAA temperature record, which starts in 1880. It has since been superseded by 2016 (NASA/NOAA; 20 January 2016).

Sean Davis highlights six facts from the Fourth National Climate Assessment illustrating why we need to act now regarding climate change.

 

The White House waited until the country was out shopping to release a dire report on the effects of climate change on our world. This government report stressing the dangers and potential economic disaster of climate change was released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), a Federal program mandated by Congress, only two days after Trump tweeted his doubts that climate change exists:

This report was shared among some people on social media, but for the most part it went largely unread. No one in this government will break down the findings of this report for the masses in order to make the research more palatable for our social media culture, and the end result is that a tweet is easier to read than a government report. This is a microcosm of the larger problem we face. As a society, we tend to believe the small lie as opposed to the hard truth, even if it is on a subconscious level.

Today, we are faced with a life-threatening problem that will, not may, change the world in just decades, if not sooner, but instead of working hard and sacrificing to alter our course from disaster, we would rather listen to someone who says the problem doesn’t exist, even when the evidence to the contrary piles up. Please read the report in its entirety, but if you don’t have time, here are a few bullet points for you:

  1. This report isn’t from some Democrat group hellbent on passing off some hidden agenda. The USGCRP was mandated a Republican Congress the Global Change Research Act of 1990. That’s right, this was put together during Ronald Reagan’s last term and into George H.W. Bush’s first term.
  2. You don’t like caravans? Get ready for a lot more of them. As the water dries up, the oceans rise, and hotter areas in the world become unlivable due to climate or political instability brought on by the absence of food and water. People will be heading to places that have water, cooler climates, and relative political stability. That means countries like the United States.
  3. “It’s the economy, stupid.” As the world heats up, the regional economies and industry that depend on resources such as water, agriculture, livestock, and the like will be impacted negatively, and the rising temperatures will “reduce the efficiency of power generation while increasing energy demands, resulting in higher energy costs,” says the report. This will translate in the projected loss of hundreds of billions of dollars.
  4. Weather is not climate. While the change in climate may lead to some extreme weather like hurricanes, torrential downpours, and even blizzards in some regions, on the whole the planet is breaking all records for hottest temperatures. The snowpack is down and the groundwater for the Southwest and Southern Great Plains will soon be depleted and “dependable and safe water supplies for U.S. Caribbean, Hawai’i, and U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Island communities are threatened by drought, flooding, and saltwater contamination due to sea level rise.” Tossing a snowball on the floor of the senate like then chairman of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) did, or writing a tweet about how a cold blast disproves global warming is either an act of dangerous and self-inflicted ignorance or a deliberate lie.
  5. The changing climate is extremely bad for our health. This seems like a no-brainer. Climate change not only means the lack of clean water for millions of people, but it also means more flooding, hurricanes, and wildland fires that will pollute our air. Not only that but the climate change “is also projected to alter the geographic range and distribution of disease-carrying insects and pests, exposing more people to ticks that carry Lyme disease and mosquitoes that transmit viruses such as Zika, West Nile, and dengue, with varying impacts across regions.”
  6. This will affect you. Every living soul on this planet will be affected by climate change. We are past the ability to avoid the detrimental effects of our changing climate. Aboriginal peoples and the poor and vulnerable will be the most affected, but the inability to feed, water, and medically treat livestock and major crop production will change our diets. Heavy precipitation events, coastal flooding, heat, wildfires, and other extreme events, as well as changes to average precipitation and temperature is predicted to ruin our country’s aging infrastructure. And you will pay more for electricity and fuel due to increased drought risk that will threaten oil and gas drilling and refining, as well as electricity generation from power plants that rely on surface water for cooling.

The U.S. Global Change Research Program is an organization made up of thirteen other federal agencies, like the Department of Agriculture (which also heads the U.S. Forest Service), the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of the Interior, the Department of State, the Department of Transportation, the EPA, NASA, and the National Science Foundation along with the Smithsonian Institution. They all agree with the rest of the world. These are the greatest minds of our time, but some of our elected leaders chose to ignore them, and it’s not just Trump:

Vice President Mike Pence says, “Claims of catastrophic consequences in global warming are not reflective of the majority of the opinions even among IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) scientists.”

Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt (who resigned from various scandals) said, “I would not agree that [carbon dioxide] is a primary driver to the global warming that we see.”

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry (who in his presidential campaign famously said he’d ax the Department of Energy), called climate change “one contrived phony mess.”

Sonny Perdue, the Secretary of Agriculture, says he doesn’t definitively know what causes climate change.

While it’s understandable to want to believe there isn’t a problem instead of facing the terrible facts of climate change, our beliefs have no effect on the proven science. We need to act. That doesn’t mean you need to become a climate change activist. It’s not realistic to believe that a person will read an article, have an epiphany, and become a climate warrior, but an easy first step is simply realization. We need to realize that this is a problem. It is the problem of our time. We need to also realize that some politicians and corporations are benefitting from our fear of this problem. Once we realize that, we can start to hold those people and corporations accountable.

We can’t let our government get away with placing someone to head the Environmental Protection Agency who sued the agency twenty-six times on behalf of companies seeking to block the EPA’s environmental protection actions. We can’t let huge companies like Shell, who knew about the dangers of climate change decades ago, get away with continued acts that will make the problem worse.  We need to hold our leaders accountable when they share blatant and easily disproved lies on climate change, and we need to realize the problem and act.

 

Sean Davis

Sean Davis is the author of The Wax Bullet War, a Purple Heart Iraq War veteran, and a community leader in Northeast Portland, Oregon. His latest stories, essays, and articles have appeared in various magazines and media sources such as HUMAN the Movie, the international fashion magazine Flaunt, Forest Avenue's forthcoming anthology City of Weird, and much more.

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