It's become increasingly obvious that climate change isn't a problem we can shove off on our progeny, because it's already happening. The torrential rains, scalding summers and hazardous air quality that plague much of the country are "primarily due to human activity," says the National Climate Assessment, a new report released today.
Natural drivers of climate cannot explain the recent observed warming. Over the last five decades, natural factors (solar forcing and volcanoes) alone would actually have led to a slight cooling.
The majority of the warming at the global scale over the past 50 years can only be explained by the effects of human influences, especially the emissions from burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) and from deforestation. The emissions from human influences that are affecting climate include heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide, and particles such as black carbon (soot), which has a warming influence, and sulfates, which have an overall cooling influence.
That the report is penned in a dispassionate voice free from political ideology makes its findings all the more devastating. Despite clear, unequivocal evidence that our already harsh weather will only continue to worsen unless radical steps are taken, many Republicans—and some Democrats—continue to be pretty "don't give a fuck" when it comes to implementing the needed changes. An emetic report from Fox News managed to twist the subject away from climate change to more effectively point fingers at the White House.
"The American people have made it clear that they want Washington to focus on the economy and make it easier for them to find good jobs. Once again, President Obama is completely ignoring their concerns -- and doubling down today on extreme regulations that will put more Americans out of work," said Wyoming Senator John Barrasso. In protest to the report based on scientific findings, Barrasso and other congressional Republicans on Tuesday released their own report based on...something...else.
"While Federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior often think of themselves as the ultimate protectors of our nation’s open skies and spaces, the work being done at the state level is equally as vital towards maintaining the West's precious lands and natural resources," it sniffs, blatantly ignoring the point that not nearly enough is being done anywhere.
It goes on to congratulate several states for doing such an exemplary job managing their resources on the local level, including Colorado, which established "a Facebook page specifically for the state's hunters," and boasts that Utah has never seen a groundwater contamination incident as a result of hyrdo-fracking, and "requires transparency in the use of chemicals in the process."
April 2014 was the first month in human history during which carbon dioxide in the air rose above an average 400 parts per million. “The question is not whether we need to act. The overwhelming judgment of science, of chemistry and physics and millions of measurements, has put all that to rest,” Obama said in a major policy address at Georgetown University last year. “So the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it's too late.”