Climate Check: Where Are We on Global Warming?

So, where are we in saving our planet? It’s 2017 and nothing has changed to stop the earth from growing successively hotter each month, each year.

As of October 2017, all but two nations on Earth had signed onto the Paris Climate Agreement. One of those had signed onto the Agreement but then this year decided to sign off: the United States. That then left the United States and Syria — Syria was enveloped in a serious civil war and in a battle for its life against ISIS/ISIL. Then in November, Syria announced it was going to sign the Agreement. That leaves the United States alone. Good ol’ “America First”.

There are those who cling to the dream that if we just ignore the science the problem will go away. What is science, anyway? Just a bunch of self-serving know-it-alls who get into research for the money, right? They never really solve anything, like cancer or MS or gravity because they can keep feeding off the federal science grant teat if they just keep studying the problem instead of solving it, right? On the other hand, the fossil fuel industry is just in it to solve the energy crisis. There’s no money in that! What sacrifice on behalf of our cars and pickups, belching energy grids, and manufacturing plants. And Congress, why they wouldn’t dream of rocking the donation boat by solving global warming. Enough of my sarcasm. Let’s be real.

Scientists get into science because they like discovery and they like solving problems. They do it for money because they have to make a living. But once they solve a problem or a mystery, there is always another problem or mystery to solve. To suggest they are in something like climate science solely to get rich is a disingenuous argument and a deflection from the real problem: The fossil fuel industry and the Congress and White House that support it don’t want to solve global warming and climate change because it would gut the industry and the campaign donation pipeline.

So here we sit. We’re headed into winter, which will make it harder to debate about global warming, because senators and congressmen and other ignoramuses who want to stall action will be able to go outside, grab a handful of snow, and say, “See, there’s no global warming.” But that’s a false narrative. Global warming doesn’t say there will never be a winter, doesn’t say that there will never be snow. What is says that the average temperatures across the globe (take all the temperatures across the globe and average them out) are rising, month after month. Even in winter. And each year, the average global temperature is rising. The data shows this.

And during the warmest time of the year at each pole – Arctic and Antarctica – the ice extent is growing smaller. And the ice there is thinning. The Antarctica, once seemingly stable, has begun to break off great slabs of ice more frequently and melt off has finally begun. They are the areas most sensitive to warming. The data shows this.

Glaciers have melted and retreated, and mountain snow packs have reduced. The data (and photos) show this.

Meanwhile, we find other signs of global warming in the form of climate change. The oceans and seas have gotten warmer. The oceans and seas have grown higher. The droughts have gotten deeper and longer in some areas. Where there is rain and storms, the rain has gotten heavier and storms more fierce. The fire burn season has grown. Storm seasons have been extended earlier and later in the year. Sure, there are occasional retreats during El Niño and La Niña years, but the trends are still there. The data shows us this.

And we haven’t yet even reached the 2-degree Celsius limit climate scientists have warned us about. Now climate scientists tell us heating may have accelerated and we could be headed in a dangerous new direction.

Yes, China and India are significant contributors to carbon pollution. But they are signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement and have pledged to take action. America is also a significant contributor to carbon pollution and even if we don’t match China and India, by no longer pledging action we are more complicit. We know there’s a problem and we’re ignoring it. The executive branch of our government is trying to tear apart the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that is responsible for keeping our air and water clean and safe from pollutants, and muzzling scientists working for or with all executive departments from even talking about climate. They are complicit as well.

All the real science on this issue points to a human responsibility for global warming. The only way to solve it is to respond to human involvement. We can’t do that by ignoring the science and hoping it goes away. It won’t go away.

During the year I keep an eye on the Arctic and Antarctic ice extent. There is a lot of data that shows how the climate is doing at the poles, all year long. Again, it is the most sensitive to warming. Here’s where you can watch, too. Don’t believe climate change deniers. Believe the science and the 97 percent of climate scientists who say our earth, and we who live on it, are in grave danger.

Still unsure? Think of it this way: What if you’re wrong? What if shrugging off global warming you are exacerbating the problem and dooming your children and grand children to a future hell, a real-life hell on earth? Is that really where you want this to go? It doesn’t have to be that way. Because it’s well within our means right now to tame this ugly beast, at least to slow it down. If you’re wrong and you do nothing, you are complicit. And soon, very soon if climate scientists are right, it will become too late.

Note to U.S. industries: While U.S. policymakers are sleeping on it, other nations are taking action, helping their alternative-energy industries profit from the activity. And their alternative-energy industries are growing while U.S. industries are struggling. Fossil-fuel industries are maintaining their profits in the U.S. at the expense of both alternative-energy industries and the world’s future. U.S. policymakers are choosing winners here, despite complaining that this is what previous policymakers were doing in taking a side on global warming before. So when the time finally comes to decide that global warming is real and actually do something about it, the rest of the world will be way ahead of U.S. alternative-energy industries and in a position to lead and the U.S. won’t be. If you’re sitting on the sidelines now, this is part of your legacy.

That’s where we are on global warming, where we are headed on the only planet we have to live. There isn’t any planet B.

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