Here’s what’s go­ing on

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

“What the hell is go­ing on with Global Wam­ing?” Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump tweeted a few days ago in the midst of a cold snap. “Please come back fast, we need you!”

If Trump had con­sulted sci­en­tists in the govern­ment he works for, they could have helped with his ba­sic un­der­stand­ing, as well as his spell­ing: The warm­ing of the Earth is un­mis­tak­able, as seen in a global tem­per­a­ture record that of­fers no rea­son for laugh­ter. Ex­perts from NASA and the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced Wed­nes­day that 2018 was the fourth-warm­est year on record, ac­cord­ing to two sep­a­rate es­ti­mates, one from each agency.

A sin­gle year’s tem­per­a­ture read­ings do not con­sti­tute a trend. But there is a trend. The five warm­est years have come in the past five years. Eigh­teen of the 19 warm­est years on record have come since the be­gin­ning of this cen­tury. That 2018 did not quite match the record-set­ting 2016 for warmth is in part be­cause a warm­ing El Niño ef­fect in 2016 raised tem­per­a­tures even higher than hu­man in­flu­ence alone would have. By con­trast, 2018 saw a cool­ing La Niña and was still fourth-warm­est. The over­all di­rec­tion is re­lent­less: This decade will be warmer than the last, which was warmer than the one be­fore it, and so on.

As more and more of their pre­dic­tions have come true, sci­en­tists have be­come more con­fi­dent in their mod­els—and more alarmed. Some ef­fects of cli­mate change re­main dif­fi­cult to pre­dict or plan for.

In the face of ever-ris­ing ev­i­dence, the pres­i­dent did not even men­tion cli­mate change in Tues­day’s State of the Union ad­dress.

Some Democrats, mean­while, have an­nounced a “Green New Deal” whose goal seems to be rad­i­cally re­shap­ing U.S. so­ci­ety and vastly ex­pand­ing govern­ment rather than sim­ply ad­dress­ing the cli­mate prob­lem, which is hard enough—and im­por­tant enough. Though not nearly as harm­ful as Mr. Trump’s rank de­nial­ism, en­gag­ing in this sort of fan­tasy also hurts the cause of prac­ti­cally ad­dress­ing the is­sue.

The world needs ra­tio­nal U.S. lead­er­ship. Un­for­tu­nately, global warm­ing will not stop in the mean­time.

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