Climate Change

SCIENCE MATTERS

I asked myself, with all the denials about climate change coming from the GOP, what is a source of data that maybe, just maybe, some of these people would believe. So I went to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Jet Propulsion web site https://climate.nasa.gov. You know, NASA, the people who build rockets, sent people to the moon, and are considered some of the brightest people in our country. Here is what they had to say.

Carbon Dioxide: Analysis of ice cores drawn from Greenland and Antarctica show that over the last 400,000 years, CO2 levels never exceeded 300 parts per million. It finally hit that level in 1950, and in just 67 years has increased to 400 parts per million. The rate of increase as measured against the previous 400,000 years is nearly a vertical line. In other words, it is going to get much worse, much faster.  Why should this alarm you? It is warming the planet at a terrifying rate from a scientific perspective. Sixteen of the last seventeen years since 2001 have been the warmest years on record. The warming climate results in longer, dryer, hotter summers. Pests and pathogens that kill vegetation thrive longer and do more damage. Between 2000 and 2013, beetles destroyed 47.6 million acres of forest, an area larger than North Dakota. Combine the two events and you have catastrophic fire season. Seasonal data runs from January to September. For 2017 the count is 47,094 fires and 7.8 million acres burned. Climate models predict that by 2050 the fire season will increase by nearly one month and will burn 60% more area than current annual acreage. The loss of timber, homes, roads, bridges, and infrastructure, in turn cost local jobs, reduces tourism, and causes serious respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Yes I know, per Donald Trump, all fake news and China’s fault.

Warming Oceans: The oceans absorb much of the increased heat. This in turn kills the coral beds, which kills the feeding ground for fish, and reduces the fish population. Combine that with over fishing, well that’s another issue for another page. Both Greenland’s and Antarctic’s ice sheets have significantly decreased in mass. This causes rising sea levels and coastal flooding. While remote islands such as Solomon and Kiribati seem to get international attention, Florida is ground zero for the U.S. Miami is already flooding on a regular basis. With tides higher now than they have been for decades, Florida’s drainage systems and sea walls are no longer adequate. Septic systems are failing, ground drinking water is being contaminated with sea water, and infrastructure is crumbling. On the bright side Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is already experiencing flooding from high tides. Trump believes climate change is a Chinese “hoax”. His recent rollback of emissions-slashing initiatives will not only hurt millions of Floridians but his own property as well.

Decreased Snow Cover: Satellite observations reveal that the amount of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past five decades and snow is melting earlier. We here in the northwest depend on that snow and its gradual melt for agricultural irrigation and drinking water. Yes, we got a break during the 2016/17 winter. However, it is a safe bet we are not going to get that fortunate in the future as the events creating the issue worsen.

Weather Events: As I write these thoughts, Texas is recovering from Hurricane Harvey, a category 4 storm with damage estimates of $180 billion. Florida is bracing for the possibility of Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm. Only three Category 5 hurricanes have ever hit the U.S., including Andrew in 1992, Camille in 1969, and an unnamed storm in 1935. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is predicting as the planet continues to warm the odds are so will the frequency and intensity of hurricanes.

Trump Responds (Walden Supports 100% of Trump Agenda): The Trump administration claims carbon dioxide’s role in climate change remains unclear despite the fact that 97% of scientists disagree with him. The Trump approach is to kill the messenger. He appointed Scott Pruitt, the former Oklahoma Attorney General, aka oil industry front man, to head the EPA. Pruitt had previously sued the EPA (13 times). Now he gets to oversee its demise. The Oregonian reported that Trump is trying to reduce the EPA budget by 25%. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the country’s organization for weather analysis and forecasting, is facing 17% cuts. I guess we don’t need to understand hurricanes, cyclones or changing weather patterns. And through it all, Gregg Walden stands shoulder to shoulder with Donald Trump. The 2nd district in Oregon deserves better than this.