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Trump’s Not Feeling the Heat

Terry H. Schwadron

Jan. 19, 2020

Another year, another report on an overheating planet from a U.S. government that has distinguished itself by denying that there is such a thing as Climate Change or climate disruption.

The Earth’s warming trend continued last year, making it the second-hottest year in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 140-year climate record just behind 2016. NASA, the space agency, which conducts its own annual review concurred, as did scientists from the United Kingdom Met Officeand the World Meteorological Organization.

Indeed, the groups said that the world’s five warmest years have all occurred since 2015 with nine of the 10 warmest years occurring since 2005, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).

Man-made climate change was the main contributor to what has been the warmest decade, the UK weather service said. “The main contributor to warming over the last 170 years is human influence on climate from increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” the Met Office said.

Little of this should come as a surprise, of course. The annual findings are in line with what scientists from around the world have been reported for years — as is the continuing silence on these matters from the Donald Trump White House.

We’re seeing disastrous wildfires on a colossal scale in Australia, extraordinary flooding in Venice and the stronger hurricanes and disasters hitting the United States.

Yet, through it all, the White House remains insistent that these are blips in weather rather than a systemic protest by a planet beset by carbon-laden gases from ever-increasing use of cars, use of fossil-fuel energy and rising needs for electricity.

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“Unfortunately, we expect to see much extreme weather throughout 2020 and the coming decades, fueled by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” said the World Metrological Organization.

So too with sea rise, polar ice cap melting and the growth of heat making arable lands unavailable for agriculture.

Still, these are reports from scientists about their measurements, and not prescriptions for what to do about it.

We’re still overly dependent on our national governments to come up with policies that will turn us away from the most dangerous trends. The international gatherings we had so thought would be dominant have turned out to be ineffective, especially as Trump has pulled the United States out of the Paris accords. Now we hear more and more reports that India or China no longer intend to pursue their national goals aggressively, and that any sense of international agreement is slipping further away.

Meanwhile, U.S. policy is missing even on easy targets, like raising car mileage standards or investing in natural energy sources outside of gas, oil and coal. Trump himself takes pride in backing continuing use of coal, and insists that such a product as “clean coal” is possible despite both scientific evidence and a dwindling market for coal of any sort.

So, while meteorological scientists are measuring constantly increasing temperatures, and biologists are measuring constantly widening effects of heat, Trump and his administration are moving further and further away from positions that might help ameliorate the temperature hikes.

The Trump White House and leading Republicans spend more effort trashing the Green New Deal proposals than they do coming up with useful legislative proposals. Indeed, they have ordered removing mentions of Climate Change from government websites and the removal of actual scientists from appropriate advisory committees.

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Global temperatures in 2019 were on average 1.05 Celsius above pre-industrial levels and this year could be hotter, the British weather service said. What’s happening is persistent and not a fluke due to some weather phenomenon. The long-term trends are being driven by increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

NASA said 2019 was the second warmest year on record, behind only 2016. Alaska had its hottest ever year. “We crossed over into more than 2F warming territory in 2015 and we are unlikely to go back,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “What’s happening is persistent [and] not a fluke due to some weather phenomenon. The long-term trends are being driven by increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

The Paris climate agreement aimed to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, but the latest data demonstrate the difficulty of meeting this goal and the lax progress that has so far been made. The earth has already warmed about half of that since pre-industrial times. The Arctic region has warmed slightly more than three times faster than the rest of the world since 1970.

It seems as if Mar-a-Lago will have to sink before Team Trump recognizes danger.

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www.terryschwadron.wordpress.com

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Journalist, musician, community volunteer

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