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Climate change and its place in politics

The debate over climate change has heated up in the past few decades. Belief in climate change and the steps we need to take to combat it can be traced directly along party lines. Climate change deniers have stuck to their guns, labelling climate change science as a liberal tool. While it’s unrealistic to say science is not affected by politics, it is also unrealistic to say that science is a hoax just because you disagree with the final report.

The most recent climate change report was written by scientists for a National Climate Assessment on congressional mandate, according to the New York Times. The 2017 report contains indisputable evidence for the overwhelming human contribution to the very real climate change problem of our age. The 2014 report said the same thing, as did many of the reports from previous years, and still nothing has changed.

Primarily conservative politicians seem intent on undermining the credibility of climate science. Why? Some sources, such as Vox, claim it’s because our politicians are too old. “Politicians are elected to make decisions for the good of the people, and I’d like to hope that having a nontoxic planet falls under that category,” Sydney Sauer, a 16 year-old from Cincinnati who plans to go to college for environmental engineering, said in a Vox article. “Why don’t our politicians care? Maybe because they won’t be here to experience the real consequences of climate change…  I realized that the average senator is 62 years old, and the average House member is 57.”

Sauer believes because of their age, many of our politicians disconnect from the consequences of climate change and are too quick to write it off. Another common excuse for discrediting global warming — a term often used interchangeably with climate change — is to cite the coldness of recent winters. This of course ignores the distinction between climate and weather: climate is patterns observed over a long period of time, while weather is observed over a short period of time.

Global temperatures are rising because of human contributions to climate change, but this will not immediately get rid of winter altogether. More likely is the probability of harsher winters as the climate changes rapidly and unnaturally, and as more ice melts and enters the water cycle. Climate change also pushes the frost back and shortens winter in states like ours.

Some of you may view this as an advantage, but winter is a full month shorter compared to 100 years ago. Ken Kunkel, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, compiled this number from the data of 700 U.S. based weather stations. This can cause major disruptions to Earth’s natural cycle.

The pest and disease season is ending later and later, increasing the damage done to forests and animal ecosystems. Our beautiful New England foliage is slowly losing colour and vibrancy as the years go by. Insects and birds with long migration patterns, such as monarch butterflies, are staying north later into the season and might not survive their journey south.

Climate change will affect you no matter where you live. As ice melts more and more each year, sea levels rise and flood coastal cities. Tropical storms such as monsoons and hurricanes are affected by air and water temperature. Droughts are made worse by the hotter atmosphere. Crop fields will yield less and less, food and gas prices will rise and your family will start getting sick. The money and resources needed to circumvent and recover from climate change will affect your quality of life, as well as your wallet. It’s in your best interest to read up on climate change and demand accountability from the politicians refusing to see the truth.

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