Year 3, Month 12, Day 12: You Provide The Prose Poems; I’ll Provide The War

The Kansas City Star runs a McClatchy article by two climatologists, Michael MacCracken and James McCarthy. It’s called, “Obama wants to understand climate change? Listen to us and Sandy, too.”

Following two of the most destructive years for climate catastrophes, President Obama is now calling for a “wide-ranging” conversation with scientists. Let’s talk.

As climate scientists who’ve together spent decades studying how and why our climate is changing, we welcome that opportunity. “Frankenstorm” Sandy brought a message for you and all of us: climate change impacts are here now, right now.

Climate change clearly contributed to Hurricane Sandy, one of the most destructive superstorms in U.S. history. On the stretch of the Atlantic Coast where we call home, sea level is rising four times faster than the global average. Global warming is heating the Atlantic Ocean and increasing atmospheric water vapor loading, both of which contributed to Sandy’s power and deluge.

Were Sandy just a single disaster, the story might end there. Unfortunately it is not. The insurance giant Munich Re reports annual weather-related loss events have quintupled in the United States, costing Americans more than a trillion dollars.

This year we have suffered through a string of record-breaking extreme weather events, all worsened by climate change. These included “Summer in March,” the hottest month in U.S. history (July 2012), the worst drought since the 1950s and a wildfire season that is rivaling the worst ever, a record set only six year ago. In 2011, the United States broke its record for the most billion-dollar weather disasters in a year: 14 totaling $47 billion. And this year’s number of disasters puts it on track to be No. 2.

It’s bad news that this is good news. December 7:

It’s good news that President Obama wants to have a discussion with climate scientists on the subject of global warming and its likely impact on the future of our nation and the world. On the other hand, in a reality-based government, idea that scientific expertise is integral to the formation of environmental policies would not be controversial, and the fact that the President is seeking expert advice on climate change wouldn’t merit a single column inch of space.

But let’s not kid ourselves: our government is at least partially based in a fantasy world where the planetary greenhouse effect is (along with evolution, cosmology, and the big bang) a liberal hoax. Mr. Obama’s openness to reality is only good news when contrasted with the the Republican Luddites who will admit neither that climate change is real or that science is relevant to policy. Our nation, and our planet, deserve better.

Warren Senders

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