Why it mat­ters: Cli­mate Change

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

It’s as if Hil­lary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump live on two en­tirely dif­fer­ent Earths: one warm­ing, one not. Clin­ton says cli­mate change “threat­ens us all,” while Trump tweets that global warm­ing is “myth­i­cal” and re­peat­edly refers to it as a “hoax.” Mea­sure­ments and sci­en­tists say Clin­ton’s Earth is much closer to re­al­ity. As heat-trap­ping gases in the air in­ten­sify and hot tem­per­a­ture records shatter, global warm­ing is tak­ing a toll on Amer­i­cans’ ev­ery­day life : their gar­dens, air, wa­ter, sea­sons, in­surance rates and more.

Where they stand

Trump calls at­tempts to rem­edy global warm­ing “just a very, very ex­pen­sive form of tax.” He tells coal min­ers he’ll get their jobs back. So­lar power now em­ploys four times more peo­ple than coal min­ing. Clin­ton pro­poses to spend $60 bil­lion to switch from dirty fos­sil fu­els to cleaner energy. She says clean energy is needed, oth­er­wise it would “force our chil­dren to en­dure the catas­tro­phe that would re­sult from unchecked cli­mate change.” She prom­ises to de­liver on the Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s pledge that by 2025, the US will be emit­ting 30 per­cent less heat-trap­ping gases than in 2005.

Why it mat­ters

Dozens of mea­sure­ments show Earth is warm­ing. And it’s wors­en­ing. The over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of cli­mate sci­en­tists and nearly ev­ery pro­fes­sional or­ga­ni­za­tion of sci­en­tists have said cli­mate change is real, man-made and a prob­lem.

From May 2015 to Au­gust 2016, 16 months in a row set records glob­ally for heat, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion. The world is on pace to break the record for hottest year, a record bro­ken in 2010, 2014 and 2015. The five hottest years recorded have all been from 2005 on and it is about 1.8 de­grees warmer than a cen­tury ago.

But it’s more than tem­per­a­tures. Arc­tic sea ice keeps flirt­ing with record low amounts. Hot wa­ter has been killing co­ral as never be­fore seen. Sci­en­tists have con­nected man-made cli­mate change to ex­treme weather, in­clud­ing deadly heat waves, droughts and flood-in­duc­ing down­pours. They even have con­nected it as one of sev­eral fac­tors in the Syr­ian drought and civil war that led to a mas­sive refugee cri­sis.

Cli­mate change is caus­ing the seas to rise, which threat­ens coast­lines. Sea level has risen a foot in the wa­ters around New York City in the past cen­tury, wors­en­ing flood­ing from Su­per storm Sandy.

And it is making peo­ple sicker with wors­ened al­ler­gies and asthma, heat deaths, dis­eases spread by ticks and mosquitoes, dirt­ier air and more con­tam­i­nated wa­ter and food, a fed­eral re­port said in April. Chang­ing the world’s econ­omy from burn­ing fos­sil fuel, which causes global warm­ing, has a huge price tag. So does not do­ing any­thing. The world’s av­er­age in­come will shrivel 23 per­cent by the year 2100 if car­bon diox­ide pol­lu­tion con­tin­ues at the cur­rent pace, ac­cord­ing to a 2015 study out of Stan­ford and the University of Cal­i­for­nia Berke­ley. Just the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts to cut car­bon pol­lu­tion from 1,000 power plants projects to cost about $8 bil­lion a year, but save sev­eral times more than in re­duced health prob­lems.

The world’s largest general sci­en­tific so­ci­ety warns of “abrupt, un­pre­dictable, and po­ten­tially ir­re­versible changes with highly dam­ag­ing im­pacts.” It may seem im­prob­a­ble that govern­ment ac­tion can re­store bal­ance to some­thing as vast as the cli­mate. But pres­i­dents Ron­ald Rea­gan and Ge­orge H.W. Bush showed that big things can be done about air pol­lu­tion. They took steps that re­duced ozone de­ple­tion and acid rain.

—AP

KANSAS CITY, MISSORI: In this July 21, 2016, file photo, the sun sets be­yond vis­i­tors to Lib­erty Me­mo­rial as the tem­per­a­ture hov­ers around 100 de­grees.

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