Big Time Media Blew It Big Time – They Failed to Fact Check Donald Trump’s Denial of Human-caused Global Warming
President-elect Donald Trump’s pre and post U. S. Presidential Election statements describing his unscientific “belief” that global warming is not human-caused is flat wrong and the media should have corrected him. It is a scientifically accepted truism that human activity – especially coal and natural gas (methane) burning to generate electricity, petroleum product burning including automobile gasoline, diesel and jet fuel burning, the latter for use by the U. S.’s military aircraft, commercial airplanes and private jets, and humans having either paved over or replaced billions of acres of land formerly in tropical rain forests, prairies, wilderness, or in other lands containing carbon dioxide sequestering vegetation with greenhouse gas producing uses by humans.industries resulting changes in the climates on all of the Earth’s continents, the rising sea levels, worldwide, due to the measured acceleration of the melting of all the Earth’s glaciers, most notably Greenland’s, massive GreenlandIce Sheet are very wrong and very threatening to our planet. Global warming, which is known to be an inevitable consequence of increased trapping of radiated heat energy at the earth’s surface which originates from the sun, due to the known increase in the volume of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, and other human engineered trace gases), primarily caused from excessive burning of fossil fuels over time, and by the paving over of the planet’s land surface, is factually undeniable.
The U. S. mass media (TV, radio, newspapers, social media, other) are most responsible for Trump’s deception filled presidential election victory, which will exacerbate global warming heaviest toll on the children of today, future generations of people and other living things having no choice but to struggle to live on a much more inhospitable planet which is destined to become more and more unlivable as time goes on – because of our uncaring actions of excessive fossil fuel burning today.
People in the U.S. and elsewhere could do so much more than they’re currently doing to stop projects such as the Dakota Pipeline project, and other environmentally disastrous energy, transportation, and natural resource consuming unsustainable projects with countless unintended negative consequences that will unquestionably hurt the living conditions for people and all other life on Earth by simply making more thoughtful decisions in how and where they choose to live, recreate, work, travel, etc.
In particular, it is essential for all to MINIMIZE the burning of oil (fossil fuels) in recreational and other needless travel, especially long distance travel, by jet airplane and daily solo motor vehicle commuter travel. In that way, we all reduce the economic need oil and other fossil fuel extraction and pipeline projects, reducing the eventual burning of the fossil fuels and adding to the already catastrophic volumes of atmospheric greenhouse gases, scientifically established to be warming our planet, melting the earth’s polar ice caps, and virtually all the world’s glaciers, thus causing sea levels to rise, the oceans and the earth’s other water bodies to warm and acidify, killing off an untold number of earth’s species, including significant degradation of earth’s many wonders such as the Great Barrier Reef to say nothing about the countless loss of life and human suffering caused by the increase in extreme weather events including droughts, flooding and severe storms such as have already been transpiring across the globe including the heavy costs borne by our own United States over the past year and right now. The losses already occurring to the world and its people and other life on the planet are beyond measure yet our political representative are doing virtually nothing to stop this terrible tragedy to our planet and its future and those who will have no choice but to call it their home.
Please sign my petition for the U.S. Congress to establish and sufficiently fund federal and state programs that would offer the American public monetary incentives to reduce their unsustainable travel levels. Tell your elected representative to legislative act now before it’s too late! http://www.allthingsenvironmental.com.
Please do not patronize TV networks. Their so called “news” programs, sports coverage, and many other programs are financed heavily from automobile industry commercials, while Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television are funded by the travel industry, heavily promoting airline and long distance travel motorized travel, which contributes huge volumes of greenhouse gas emissions, from jets,automobiles and other fossil fuel powered vehicles, mostly for recreational purposes, leaving a permanent, indelible mark for succeeding generations live with. National Public Radio is funded by the Koch Brothers. They all say they are “neutral” on political issues. But Climate Change is Science. It is continuing and in fact accelerating, regardless if the president-elect believes in it or not. To say otherwise does not comport with the facts.
Either we act now or life as we know it on this planet may soon be history.
“The Sun will never disappear, but the Earth may not have many years…. Remember, Today… Well well well, oh, well”
– John Lennon (9 October 1940 -8 December 1980), musician, peace activist, artist, band leader of rock band “The Beatles” and founder of “The Plastic Ono Band”, humanist, dreamer … murder victim.
Reducing the Current Suicidal Rate of Global Warming and Planning for Adapting to Changing Climates Demands Review of Goals, Principles and Actions by World’s Past Leaders and the Movements and Demonstrations by the People Who Expressed their Demands for Change
Today’s Populations, Businesses and Governments Responsible for Ensuring and Prolonging Earth’s Beauty, Economic Potential, Safety, and Humane Conditions for All It’s People and Animals Ought Not Ignore Leadership, Inspirations, Dreams and Concerted Actions of Millions of People and Leaders Who Lived Before Us, or Are Still Amoung Us, for Help in Music Guidance, Leader
To be continued….
This post is being offered as a work in process. Readers are encouraged to submit constructive comments, all of which will be considered in final development of the post.
The post is also inspired by the Steve Miller Band’s performance of the song “Fly Like an Eagle”, played to a full capacity Breese Steven Field venue in Madison, Wisconsin, on July 1, 2016. The song can be heard and the lyrics read by clicking on the above description. It is well worth listening too and applies more now due to all the strife in the world than ever before.
Due to wars, poverty and the threatening and dangerous changes to climates around the world (23 people died from extreme rain fall and flooding in West Virginia), president Obama and other world leaders have told us actions to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are “urgent”. Certainly, former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson (1916 – 2005) founder of the first Earth Day, held April 22, 1970 (and every 46 years thereafter on April that same date), would see little to celebrate our country’s 240th birthday today.
Record levels of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and oceans, leading to deadly heatwaves, storms, and record levels of global average temperature. Travel via driving and flying contribute more than one-third of the U.S.’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.
According to a study by Sabrina McCormick, Jaime Madrigano, and Emma Zinsmeister: “Preparing for Extreme Heat Events: Practices in Identifying Mortality”, published in April 2016 in the journal Health Security, the authors make the following assertion:
“Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of extreme heat events. These events affect cities in increasingly abrupt and catastrophic ways; yet, many of the deaths caused by exposure to heat have gone unnoticed or are inaccurately identified, resulting in a lack of urgency in addressing this issue. We aim to address this under-identification of deaths from heat waves in order to better assess heat risk. We investigated death records in New York City from 2010 to 2012 to identify characteristics that vary between deaths officially categorized as caused by heat wave exposure (oHDs) and those possibly caused by heat (pHDs). We found that oHDs were more often black and of a younger age than would typically be expected. We also found that there was a lack of evidence to substantiate that an oHD had occurred, using the NYC official criteria. We conclude that deaths from heat waves are not being accurately recorded, leading to a mis-estimation….”
Science shows us that the global warming is contributing to higher sea levels and a 30 per cent increase in the acidity of the oceans, leading to declines of species and in losses to fishing and tourism industries, worldwide.
Meanwhile, poverty and income inequality in the United States and elsewhere are having devastating effects on millions of individuals, families and so many unfortunate children. A recent study shows children growing up in poverty suffer permanent brain damage.
President John F. Kennedy told us in 1961 to”Ask not what your country can do for, ask what you can do for your country”. The best thing U.S. citizens can do everyday is to minimize their daily and annual greenhouse gas emissions.
The Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, reads as follows: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …”
Our government officials at the state and federal level have failed in not passing legislation that meaningfully reduces Wisconsin and the U.S.’ catastrophic levels of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. What is needed is that our government at the federal and state level should by now have enacted programs which offer meaningful positive financial incentives (dollars) to the public to reduce total annual motor vehicle driving, flying, and using electricity and heating that have been derived through fossil fuel burning.
Reducing the amount of fossil fuel burning in the state and country would have “cost reducing” benefits as well, such as reductions in oil spills, train derailment explosions, and the financial and cost of expanding highways, airports and fossil fuel fired power plants.
Burning fossil fuels, whether this is done in highway motor vehicles, jet airplanes, sea going ships, recreational motor boats, gas or coal-fired electricity generation plants, or in furnaces to heat one’s home, has a pronounced adverse effect on public and animal health, worldwide, by increasing breathable air particle pollution while at the same time adding to the record high and ever growing, catastrophe creating, quantities of heat generating greenhouse gas volumes in the atmosphere.
The mounting volumes of these gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide) are known to be warming the planet, accelerating rising sea levels around the world, causing more acidic and warmer oceans (bad for sea life and coral reefs), stronger and more costly and deadly storms (Hurricane Sandy, Houston, TX and West Virginia floods), and unparalleled drought and wildfires (California , Alberta Canada, Africa, Australia, Middle East, which has led to major upheavals in countries’ economies, population migrations and known calamities of major human and other life fatalities.
According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), monthly global average temperatures for May 2016 were the highest recorded monthly average global temperatures recorded since the agency initiated monitoring Earth’s monthly temperature values in 1880, setting a string of consecutive record high monthly average temperatures for our Earth’s combined global ocean and land surfaces in the 137-year record.
May 2016 was characterized by warmer to much warmer than average conditions across Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Central America, northern South America, northern Europe, Africa, Oceania, and parts of southern and eastern Asia, according to the Land & Ocean Temperature Percentiles map above. Areas with record warmth included much of Southeast Asia and parts of northern South America, Central America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and northern and eastern Australia. Near- to cooler-than-average conditions were present across much of the contiguous U.S., central and southern South America, and much of central Asia.
The sooner that people living today accept the fact that their own actions – such as driving gasoline and other greenhouse gas emitting fuels powering their highway motor vehicles, and choosing to fly today’s jet fuel (a fossil fuel) powered airplanes, and using electricity derived from burning fossil fuels and burning natural gas (another fossil fuel) – and deforestation and cement paving and other human activities that are known to be adding to the already known dangerous and abnormally high concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and warming and acidifying of the earth’s oceans – the better off things will be for all future life on Earth.
Naomi Klein shared her latest conclusions on how close Earth is to the “tipping point” on global warming and climate change in an April 7, 2016 opinion piece in The Guardian.com, and Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton actions that have made things worse, not better.
Unfortunately, there are so many other federal and state politicians, virtually all so-called public and commercial-funded media sources, and others who have also “helped” us get where we are now –some have even shown they understood and were aware of the significance of the problem being created (oil industry, possibly auto, truck and airline industries, highway, bridge and airport building industries, coal mining industry, possibly others) yet, almost unbelievably, chose to continue selling the fuel despite knowing the the significance and potential for calamity for current and future generations.
The path to achieving sustainability on Earth for humans and most other species living on our planet is, unfortunately, rapidly narrowing. It could soon close, say the great many of IPCC climate scientists, and as a result jeopardizing the lives of children living today and in the future. Indeed, there are far too many people in the U.S. and most other developed countries who have not seen fit to overcome their dependence on fossil fuels for activities such as driving motor vehicles, flying jetliners, using products and services made more readily available because of subsidized fuel costs, conserving energy in their homes and mansions, and their choice of a lifestyle which is grossly overdependent on the burning fossil fuels in spite of the now widely accepted crisis which the president of the United States appropriately calls “urgent”.
In short, our continuing with our “business as usual” economy – one centered around the philosophy that we should “eat, drink and be merry” now, while throwing caution to the wind; a philosophy that we can eat our cake and still have it for tomorrow – is unfairly going to saddle the children of today and tomorrow with a planet that is, for all intents and purposes, dying, and thus less likely to sustain life in the not too distant future.
When you place a large kettle of cold water on a hot stove burner, one would not expect to see the water immediately come to a boil. It would take several minutes of heating for the water to reach the boiling point of 212 degrees F.. So it is with adding more greenhouse gases to the volumes of such gases already present in the atmosphere. At some point, scientists predicted the surface waters of Earth’s oceans would begin to show warming. Such warming has now been measured, along with the increase in sea level from thermal expansion and the melting of glaciers, worldwide. The warming of the oceans is increasing, ever so slowly because of the tremendous volume of water the Earth’s 5 oceans, but increasing at a faster rate with the continuing accumulation of more and more atmospheric greenhouse gases, which are cumulative over time
Clearly, our burning such vast quantities of fossil fuels in transportation and for electricity today, while paying nothing for the great harm being inflicted on future generations, is a monumental injustice. The damage being created by the present and recently passed generation’s fuel burning activities is undoubtedly huge and devastating to future societies and animal life – stronger and more deadly storms, worse flooding, longer droughts, hotter heat waves, and impairments to water and other life-sustaining resources and infrastructure. Calling this anything other than a crime against humanity seems too kind. The human and economic cost linked to people and animals who will be more exposed to degraded living conditions and more dangerous weather extremes is very real and predictable. Those of our society set on continuing to uphold the status quo of “business as usual”, as our earth continues to warm under the blanket of a thicker greenhouse gas laden atmosphere have chosen the wrong path.
Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author of the international bestsellers, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate (2014), The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) and No Logo (2000). Each book has been translated into over 25 languages worldwide. She is a contributing editor for Harper’s and reporter for Rolling Stone, and writes a regular column for The Nation and The Guardian that is syndicated internationally by The New York Times Syndicate. Additionally, her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Globe and Mail, El Pais, L’Espresso and The New Statesman, among many other publications.
Naomi is a member of the board of directors for 350.org, a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. She is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute and a former Miliband Fellow at the London School of Economics. In 2004, her reporting from Iraq for Harper’s won the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. In 2014 she received the International Studies Association’s IPE Outstanding Activist-Scholar award and in 2015 she received The Izzy Award honoring outstanding achievement in independent journalism and media. She holds an honorary Doctor of Civil Laws from the University of King’s College, Nova Scotia. (Photo by Kourosh Keshiri.)
Penn State climate scientist David Pollard, along with University of Massachusetts–Amherst professor Robert DeConto, in their latest climate change report, published by Climate Central, “Antarctica at Risk of Runaway Melting, Scientists Discover”, addressing rising sea levels, predict that, without major reductions of greenhouse gases BY EVERYBODY, ocean levels impacting the U.S. are expected to increase up to 6 feet in elevation by 2100! Antarctic melting is predicted to be the main cause of the rise in ocean levels that are expected to impact the U.S..
Climate Central is an independent organization of leading scientists and journalists researching and reporting the facts about the changing climate and its impact on the public.
With a Forecast of Sea Level Rising 5-6 Feet Under “Business-as-Usual” Conditions, Media and Others Ought Ask Presidential Contenders What Steps the Country and Its People Ought Be Taking to Reduce this Major Threat to Humanity!
The latest study in the prestigious Journal Nature predicts the world’s oceans will rise 5 or 6 feet by the end of this century without major changes to end fossil fuel burning – NOW! We are causing irreparable harm to the earth’s climate and its physical and biological systems – including warming and acidification of the oceans as well as rising sea levels – processes that have already begun and will not be possible to reverse even if humans stop burning fossil fuels today.
So all we can do is slow the rate of change and help those most likely to be affected to prepare for the worst. It’s the least we can do.
The League of Conservation Voters has a continually updated report “In Own Words” on each remaining 2016 presidential candidates’ past statements on climate change . Non of the candidates statements reflect the study on sea level rise released last week.
A new scientific study, released to the media Tuesday by the European Geoscience Union’s Journal of Atmospheric and Physics, has major media sources reporting “alarming” study predictions of sea level rise and extreme weather from global warming, “much faster” than the rate of rise predicted in the most recent report by IPCC scientists. The world’s governments are being urged to “speed up the transition to carbon-free energy.” (Slate, 3/22/16)
Last year was the hottest on record. This January was the hottest on record. This February was the hottest on record — when the northern hemisphere breached 2 degrees of average warming for the first time in human history. “Our planet’s temperature just reached a terrifying milestone.” (Slate, 3/12/16)
The study uses climate simulations, paleoclimate data and modern observations to infer that continued high fossil fuel emissions will cause a slowdown and eventually shutdown the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and the Southern Meridional Oceanic Circulation, resulting in an increase in powerful storms and nonlinear sea level rise, rising up to several meters in 50–150 years.
The meridional overturning circulation is a system of surface and deep currents encompassing all ocean basins. It transports large amounts of water, heat, salt, carbon, nutrients and other substances around the globe, and connects the surface ocean and atmosphere with the huge reservoir of the deep sea. The circulation of ocean water has been found to play a central role in climate and climate variability. Historically, the focus of research has been on the North Atlantic Basin, a primary site where water sinks from the surface to depth, triggered by loss of heat, and therefore buoyancy, to the atmosphere. A key part of the overturning puzzle, however, is the return path from the interior ocean to the surface through upwelling in the Southern Ocean. This return path is largely driven by winds. It has become clear over the past few years that the importance of Southern Ocean upwelling for our understanding of climate rivals that of North Atlantic downwelling, because it controls the rate at which ocean reservoirs of heat and carbon communicate with the surface.
The authors of the new study claim that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “missed” reporting on these important changes in their latest IPCC report, which the 18 authors of the new study underestimates ice sheet melt and the IPCC’s models are too insensitive to accurately account for ocean waters mixing.
In a video abstract: “Ice melt, Sea Level Rise and Superstorms”, lead author and climate scientist Dr. James Hansen states that evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations show that the maximum level of global warming that was set at the Paris Climate Summit meetings in early December 2015 of 2°C global warming to be “highly dangerous” and that “We have a climate emergency and must slash CO2 emissions ASAP or irreparable harm to the climate will be done for succeeding generations”.
I could not allow this day – Feb. 29 – to pass without comment. Leap year – a year having an extra day in February – occurs only every four years.
So, is that good or bad?
It’s not good, in fact it’s DISASTROUS, because yet ANOTHER day, and year, and decade has gone by while our elected officials in the State of Wisconsin Legislature, and the U.S. Congress, and the population of our state and country, refuse to take the threat, and now reality, of global warming caused by too much fossil fuel burning – in cars, trucks, airplanes, electric power producing plants that burn fossil fuels, seriously, despite alarming increases in sea levels.
Too much fuel burning primarily coal, methane (natural gas), and oil products, have been burned by humans over the past decades and centuries for the energy that has been produced, resulting in the emission and accumulation of elevated concentrations of “greenhouse gases” in earth’s atmosphere, resulting in global warming, the rise in the elevation levels of earth’s oceans, due to the melting of the earth’s Arctic and Antarctic Circle’s land ice and snow, the shrinking of earth’s mountainous glaciers, a thawing of the earth’s permafrost region (one-fifth of the earth’s land surface), causing a warming, expansion, and acidification of earth’s oceans, leading to a dangerous rise in sea level.
The warming is already wreaking of havoc on earth’s biological systems, including humans, most notably in poorer, tropical countries, many of which are already experiencing grave losses due to extreme weather events, such as drought, heat waves and severe storms, along with unprecedented flooding, all of which had been scientifically predicted well over a century ago!
The warming has been compounded by the increasing loss of vegetation, particularly the loss of the tropical rainforests, which had been naturally sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but not anymore, by the ones which have been replaced by other forms of development or money producing mono-culture agriculture.
Global warming from human causes is not rocket science, despite what the flat earth believers may still be claiming. However, saying that human-caused global warming is not occurring, because it has not been “proven” to be happening – as of this February 29, 2016, is utterly preposterous, and those who claim human-caused global warming is not happening are either fools or worse yet – liars.
On December 8, 1941, the United States Congress declared war on the Empire of Japan in response to its surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor in the U.S. Territory (soon to become state) of Hawaii the morning of December 7, 1941.
The Declaration of War was formulated an hour after President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous Infamy Speech at 12:30 pm on December 8, 1941. The declaration quickly passed the Senate and then the House at 1:10 p.m the same day. Roosevelt signed the declaration at 4:10 p.m., December 8, 1941. The power to declare war is assigned exclusively to Congress in the United States Constitution; however, the president’s signature was symbolically powerful and resolved any doubts.
In the Joint Resolutions declaring war against the Imperial Government of Japan, Germany and Italy, the Congress pledged “all the resources of the country of the United States” … “and the president is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the government to carry on war … to bring the conflict to a successful termination.”
The magnitude of the threat of accelerating global warming and a rapidly changing climate that would undeniably accompany the continued and increasing accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, as a direct consequence of human actions, mainly from too much fossil fuel burning and continuing and increased deforestation, especially in the tropics, upon the United States of America and the rest of the world, both now and into the future, easily dwarfs the loss of life, injury and misery to humans and animals wrought by all known wars, and therefore justifies a declaration of war by all countries of the world to slow and ultimately halt global warming and climate change, worldwide. Such declarations should be made now, without delay, to ensure an hospitable and safe world for all Earth’s current and future generations.
It is morally essential that Government, businesses, individuals and families begin to meet this challenge of increasing global warming and climate change that has already begun to cause loss of human lives, other species living in the world, and brought pain and misery to so many. To ignore and campaign against actions that reduce this growing threat, which will unquestionably hurt the people of the world’s poorer countries and Earth’s millions and millions of species, is utterly and morally reprehensible and is a practice that ought stop immediately because it needlessly delays progress in attacking this major problem of untold negative consequences for centuries to come.
Selected Remarks by National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice on Climate Change and National Security at Stanford University, October 12, 2015: [Full Text of Speech]
… In 1985—fall quarter of my senior year—scientists from around the world met to express concern that a buildup of greenhouse gasses, and specifically carbon dioxide, would result in “a rise of global mean temperature…greater than any in man’s history.” By 1990, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its first report, detailing how a warming climate would affect our ecosystem. There have since been four more reports, each with more sophisticated science to support ever more dire warnings.
So, it’s not that we didn’t see climate change coming. It’s that for the better part of three decades we failed, repeatedly, to treat this challenge with the seriousness and the urgency it deserves. As an international community, we succumbed to divisive global politics that set developing countries against industrialized nations and stymied international consensus on climate change.
At home, we succumbed to divisive domestic politics that allowed entrenched interests to push a calculated agenda of doubt, denial, and delay. And, we focused, quite understandably, on other critical national security priorities—from coming to grips with globalization, halting proliferation, and above all, keeping the American people safe in a post-9/11 world….
We are seizing opportunities and meeting challenges head on. And, today, we face no greater long-term challenge than climate change, an advancing menace that imperils so many of the other things we hope to achieve. That’s why, under President Obama, we have put combating climate change at the very center of our national security agenda….
In the past 15 years, we’ve had 14 of the hottest years on record—which is exactly the kind of change those climate scientists back in 1985 suggested we could be seeing by now. Last year, 2014, was the hottest. And, scientists say there’s a 97 percent chance that we’ll set a new record again this year. The seas have risen about eight inches over the past 100 years, and they’re now rising at roughly double the rate they did in the 20th century. Arctic sea ice is shrinking. Permafrost is thawing. The Antarctic ice shelf is breaking up faster than anticipated. Storms are getting stronger. Extreme precipitation events are becoming more frequent. Heat waves are growing more intense. The bottom line is this: we’re on a collision course with climate impacts that have inescapable implications for our national security. Let me sketch out a few of them.
First, climate change is a direct threat to the prosperity and safety of the American people. We’re losing billions of dollars in failed crops due to extreme drought. Millions of acres of forest have been lost to fire. In addition to longer fire seasons and drier summers here in the West, on the East Coast we’re seeing record rain events. Last week in the Carolinas, unprecedented amounts of rain fell—enough in just five days to put a serious dent in California’s multi-year drought. And, while we can’t say that climate change is the direct cause of any specific weather event, these are exactly the trends that we expect to see more of, if climate trends continue on their current trajectory.
Along our coasts, we’ve got thousands of miles of roads and railways, 100 energy facilities, communities of millions—all of which are vulnerable to sea-level rise. Remember Super Storm Sandy—how it hobbled America’s largest city and plunged everyone south of 34th Street into darkness for days? We saw a cascading failure of infrastructure. Water flooded an electrical substation, and backup power was either flooded or insufficient. Over 6,000 patients had to be evacuated from powerless hospitals down stairwells. Transportation broke down, because you can’t pump gas without electricity. Wastewater treatment plants shut down. One critical sector pulled down other vital systems. And, with warmer oceans and higher seas, New York City will have to be prepared for Sandy-level flooding to happen every 25 years.
When I visited Alaska with President Obama last month, we saw rapidly disappearing glaciers and a native community whose island home is already being washed away. The question for them is not if they will have to abandon their traditional homes and way of life, but when. These are real threats to our homeland security, and they’re happening now.
Second, climate change will impact our national defense. We’ve got military installations that are imperiled by the same rising seas as our civilian infrastructure. Here in the western United States, ranges where our troops train are jeopardized by heat and drought. In fact, this summer we had to cancel some training exercises, because it got too hot.
Climate change means operating in more severe weather conditions, increasing the wear on both service members and their equipment. There will also be new demands on our military. A thawing Arctic means 1,000 miles of Arctic coastline and new sea lanes to secure. Around the world, more intense storms—like the massive typhoon that decimated part of the Philippines two years ago—will mean more frequent humanitarian relief missions. And, our military will have to deal with increased instability and conflict around the world.
That’s a third major national security concern, because climate change is what the Department of Defense calls a “threat multiplier”—which means, even if climate change isn’t the spark that directly ignites conflict, it increases the size of the powder keg. A changing climate makes it harder for farmers to grow crops, fishermen to catch enough fish, herders to tend their livestock—it makes it harder for countries to feed their people. And humans, like every other species on this planet, scatter when their environment can no longer sustain them. As the Earth heats up, many countries will experience growing competition for reduced food and water resources. Rather than stay and starve, people will fight for their survival.
All of these consequences are exacerbated in fragile, developing states that are least equipped to handle strains on their resources. In Nigeria, prolonged drought contributed to the instability and dissatisfaction that Boko Haram exploits. The genocide in Darfur began, in part, as a drought-driven conflict. In the years prior to civil war breaking out in Syria, that country also experienced its worst drought on record. Farming families moved en masse into urban centers, increasing political unrest and further priming the country for conflict. In fact, last year, a Stanford research group determined that a rise in temperature is linked with a statistically significant increase in the frequency of conflict. There is already an unholy nexus between human insecurity, humanitarian crises, and state failure—climate change makes it that much worse.
Around the world, more than 100 million people now live less than one meter above sea level—including entire island countries in the Caribbean, the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. Consider the impacts—to the global economy and to our shared security—when rising seas begin to swallow nations whole.
Fourth, we face spreading diseases and mounting threats to global health. Already, more mosquito-borne diseases are spreading from the tropics to temperate zones as climates warm. Viruses like West Nile and Chikungunya are growing more prevalent in the United States. India is currently in the grip of the worst dengue fever outbreak in years. Livestock diseases are expanding northward into Europe. These advancing diseases cost billions of dollars a year to treat and contain, not to mention the immeasurable cost in human lives and suffering.
Finally, we cannot dismiss the worst-case predictions of catastrophic, irreparable damage to our environment. If the Greenland ice sheet melts, seas could rise not just the one to four feet many scientists predict, but eventually as much as 20 feet. If the oceans continue to acidify, it will devastate the marine coral reefs, compromising the food chain, and imperiling a major source of protein for 3 billion people worldwide.
These aren’t marginal threats. They put at risk the health and safety of people on every continent.