Readers React: Demand action on climate change

Eloise Marshall
October 21, 2018

Colbert isn't the only late-night television host to have noticed Trump's comments and been bothered by them.

Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the worldwide body providing governments with the scientific basis to develop climate-related public policies, released its latest special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5ºC - not 2ºC - above pre-industrial levels. Some nations around the world, however, are doing small things to fight climate change.

The scientists on the panel, convened by the United Nations, issued a report commissioned by world leaders following the 2015 Paris Agreement, under which 195 nations adopted the goal of holding an increase in the global average temperature to less than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2 degrees Celsius, above pre-industrial levels and to pursue an effort toward a lesser increase of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1.5 degrees Celsius.

She also repeated the exhausted refrain of politicians from across the spectrum, that economic considerations are as important as environmental ones - equating the relatively new, human-created, outdated economic system with the timeless natural systems on which our health, well-being and survival depend. Toxic coal ash, too, was released into the river. This will be no easy task; a year ago global carbon emissions hit an all-time high.

The report said it would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society in order to reach that goal.

"I'm not a scientist". But I don't know that it's man made. He said he's had to start coating the bottom of his river boats with antifouling paint to prevent barnacles and other marine organisms from growing amid saltwater intrusion.

"If mitigation efforts do not keep global mean temperature below 1.5C", says the report, "solar radiation modification can potentially reduce the climate impacts of a temporary temperature overshoot, in particular extreme temperatures, rate of sea-level rise, and intensity of tropical cyclones". "All of a sudden, we were allowed to have a conversation with our Republican counterparts".

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At two degrees, global gross domestic product per capita would drop by 13 percent and 400 million more people would suffer from water scarcity. That is almost triple the percentage of Republicans - 13 percent - who felt that way in 2017. Andrew Emory Dessler, climate scientist and professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University responded to Trump's accusation: "At its heart, this is just a wacky conspiracy theory".

Even worse, "tipping points" are barely mentioned in the report. A sunburned construction worker said it's not worth worrying about because "God takes care of it". More recently, he told the "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl that "Something's changing and it'll change back again". The storm that ravaged the Panhandle left incredible destruction.

The failure to meet the Paris agreement obligations would result in permanent damage to the environment. References to climate change have been scrubbed from the websites of several federal agencies. The UN examined how much better 1.5 degrees of warming would be opposed to 2. These would certainly not the easiest nor most effective solutions, but if such solutions become the most popular, I predict quite a few Americans would suddenly happen to find the plethora of evidence showing that the climate is changing due to human activity much more compelling. These are only some of the deadly and detrimental effects of global warming.

Not all Florida Republicans agree with Scott on climate though.

Shifting public opinion was also evident in Phil Garwood's geology class at the community college campus in downtown Wilmington.

Lately every time I log into Facebook I am reminded of climate change. So why aren't more conservative Christians leading this charge? But the topic has become more interesting to recent students, he said, "because it's not abstract anymore".

"Students used to say this is bull", said Garwood, recalling that a former student had written a letter to the dean complaining that he was teaching about "God's domain".

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