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Are There Too Many Climate Change Deniers in Congress?

Posted By Candice Gaukel Andrews On January 14, 2014 @ 11:02 am In Eco Travel, Green Living | 3 Comments

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Recently, while reading the November/December 2013 issue of Sierra, the magazine of the Sierra Club, I came across a graphic that startled me [2]. It depicted two columns, labeled “House” and “Senate.” Under each of those titles were two more columns, showing the number of Democrats and Republicans in each branch of the legislature that are climate change deniers. Under the House section were 200 Democrats; none were listed as climate change deniers. Of the 233 Republicans, 128 deny climate change.

In the Senate, there were 52 Democrats (with two Independents), again with 0 climate change deniers. Of the 46 Republicans, 30 deny that the world is warming.

My goal here is not to cast aspersions on any one party but to look at the big picture. It is possible that we can make strides to protect the planet against the devastating effects caused by rapid climate change [3] if our leadership fails to believe it is real?

Aftereffects of a small temperature rise

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The world’s oceans now have 405 dead zones. ©Candice Gaukel Andrews

According to NASA, 2012 was the ninth warmest of any year since 1880. In fact, with the exception of 1998, the nine warmest years in the 132-year record all have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the hottest.

In 2012, temperatures in some areas of the ocean reached record highs, and ice in the Arctic shrank [5] to its smallest size on record — faster than computer models had predicted it would. Sea levels in New York Harbor are now a foot higher than they were a century ago, and our nation is experiencing larger forest fires in a longer fire season [6].

A few other facts:

  • Scientists say that 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the safe limit for humanity. We’re now at 393.
  • The world’s oceans [7] now have 405 dead zones, areas of ocean with too little oxygen for most marine life. Dead zones are caused primarily by nitrogen and phosphorous runoff from farm fields, which kill bottom-dwelling sea creatures (such as crabs), disrupting the food chain and sending predators up higher, into warmer waters.
  • An iceberg twice the size of Manhattan broke free from Greenland [8] in July 2012. Greenland is warming five times faster than average global temperatures, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. The island is also experiencing surface melting across its entire ice sheet.

All this, and we’ve increased the Earth’s temperature by only 0.8 degrees Celsius (roughly about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit; every 1-degree C rise in temperature equates to a nearly 2-degree F increase) in the past 100 years. Scientists predict that average surface temperatures could rise between 2 degrees C and 6 degrees C by the end of the 21st century if we fail to initiate serious policy changes. Because of the massive carbon pollution spewing into the atmosphere, the planet is entering into a more aggressive climate paradigm scientists call the “Anthropocene,” in which entire ecosystems will be disrupted and more forms of life will be threatened with extinction [9].

No single party to blame

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In the Anthropocene, more forms of life will become extinct. ©Candice Gaukel Andrews

There’s no doubt that the Earth’s climate is complex and responds to multiple forces, including carbon dioxide and insolation. But in the last 100 years — since the Industrial Revolution — the increase in carbon dioxide through increased emissions from human activities is the only variable that can best explain the rapid increase in global temperatures. Yet the current Congress has refused to pass any carbon-capping legislation.

Recently, a group of former Republican Environmental Protection Agency administrators who served under Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush together wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times titled “A Republican Case for Climate Action [11].” They stated: “The United States must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally. The costs of inaction are undeniable.”

As it’s been said, as far as we now know, there is no Planet B.

Do you think it’s already too late to make strides against a warming climate by the end of this century? How can we make the leadership in Congress take climate change seriously?

Happy trails,

Candy

Feature photo: Greenland is warming five times faster than average global temperatures. ©Candice Gaukel Andrews

Related Articles:

Is Birth Control the Solution to Climate Change? [12]

Will You Miss the Animals You Never Knew? [13]

25 Things You Can Do to Fight Climate Change [14]

Global Warming: Are You Still a Believer? [15]

Green Living Solutions:

LED Light Bulbs [16]

Four Season Climate Control [17]

Seventh Generation Recycled Products [18]

Organic Bedding [19]




Article printed from Gaiam Blog: http://blog.gaiam.com

URL to article: http://blog.gaiam.com/are-there-too-many-climate-change-deniers-in-congress/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://blog.gaiam.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/IMG_5053_Web3.jpg

[2] graphic that startled me: http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/201311/grapple-climate-change-denial-congress.aspx

[3] rapid climate change: http://goodnature.nathab.com/reviving-extinct-animals-a-tool-for-fighting-global-warming/

[4] Image: http://blog.gaiam.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/IMG_5903_ca_Web2.jpg

[5] ice in the Arctic shrank: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/20/science/earth/arctic-sea-ice-stops-melting-but-new-record-low-is-set.html

[6] larger forest fires in a longer fire season: http://goodnature.nathab.com/climate-change-and-wildfire-risk-will-future-forests-be-treeless/

[7] world’s oceans: http://blog.gaiam.com/if-i-call-for-your-attention-will-it-pick-up/

[8] Greenland: http://goodnature.nathab.com/a-shifting-landscape-images-of-greenlands-ice/

[9] threatened with extinction: http://blog.gaiam.com/blog/is-another-mass-extinction-imminent/

[10] Image: http://blog.gaiam.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/IMG_6995_Web.jpg

[11] A Republican Case for Climate Action: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/02/opinion/a-republican-case-for-climate-action.html?_r=0

[12] Is Birth Control the Solution to Climate Change?: http://life.gaiam.com/article/birth-control-solution-climate-change

[13] Will You Miss the Animals You Never Knew?: http://blog.gaiam.com/will-you-miss-the-animals-you-never-knew/

[14] 25 Things You Can Do to Fight Climate Change: http://life.gaiam.com/article/climate-change-25-things-you-can-do

[15] Global Warming: Are You Still a Believer?: http://blog.gaiam.com/global-warming-are-you-still-a-believer/

[16] LED Light Bulbs: http://www.gaiam.com/led-light-bulbs/11-0257_set.html?extcmp=life_prod

[17] Four Season Climate Control: http://www.gaiam.com/four-season-climate-control/01-0570.html?extcmp=life_prod

[18] Seventh Generation Recycled Products: http://www.gaiam.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-gaiam-Site/default/Search-Show?q=seventh%20generation&extcmp=life_prod

[19] Organic Bedding: http://www.gaiam.com/bedding/?extcmp=life_prod

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