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Editorial: climate change reports tell the truth and we should listen

A collection of 91 scientists from 40 countries analyzing over 6,000 scientific studies formed one landmark United Nations climate report. Facts, studies and reports from NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have been published for years. Reputable sources and reputable people have repeatedly proven that climate change is happening, and it’s severely impacting our future. However, our current administration and some members of Congress are sticking to their versions of the story: that climate change is a hoax, human impact can’t be proved or that there is nothing we can do.

The fact is, however, that climate change is here and it has been here for some time. The first changes began with the start of the industrial revolutions that swept the globe into a manufacturing frenzy in the 1800s. The start of large-scale fossil fuel burning and human impact on our climate has since increased our global temperature by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. One hundred years later, in the 1950s, the atmospheric carbon dioxide level rose above an amount it hadn’t crossed for centuries, and it has only gone up from there, according to a NASA study.

Global sea level has risen by about eight inches since 1880 and is predicted to rise another one to four feet by 2100. Water from the rapidly melting ice sheets and glaciers and the expansion of seawater as it warms are causing global sea levels to rise by about 8 inches since 1880, and are predicted to rise another one to four feet by 2100. In fact, Greenland lost an average of  281 billion tons of ice per year between 1993 and 2016.

A 2015 NASA study found that droughts in the Southwest and Central Plains of the U.S. could be drier and longer than they have ever been in the last 1,000 years. The likelihood of a “megadrought” — a drought lasting upwards of 30 to 35 years — has increased by 12 percent.

These facts and numbers are not going to stop changing. The newest addition to the long lists of effects and causes came from the U.N. Climate Report released on Oct. 8 and issued by the IPCC placed a new end-date to some of Earth’s natural wonders, like the coral reef, if immediate action is not taken, a date that seems hauntingly closer than ever before: 2040.

The report stated that by that year, the global temperature could increase to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit from the preindustrial levels, resulting in even larger levels of drought, poverty and submerged coastlines. The environment wouldn’t be the only one taking a hit either. Damages resulting from this temperature change could add up to value over $54 trillion.

In order for anything to be done to slow the damaging effects, levels of fossil fuel burning and carbon-emitting resources used will need to be severely reduced within a decade and renewable energy sources like wind and solar will need to increase from the current 20 percent usage to 67 percent. However, the authors of the report and many other U.S. citizens can see that these changes are extremely unlikely.

The White House website itself neglects to list any mention of climate change under its Energy and Environment page. Trump tweeted in 2015, “It’s really cold outside, they are calling it a major freeze, weeks ahead of normal. Man, we could use a big fat dose of global warming!” In 2012, he said, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

Trump’s advisor, Larry Kudlow, said in response to a question about the U.N. report from ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos: “We’re always studying these things. The issue here though is magnitude and timing. Personally, I think the U.N. study is … way, way too difficult. I won’t say it’s a scare tactic but I think they overestimate.”

Trump and his administration have frozen fuel efficiency standards and relaxed rules on coal power plants while touting a plan to increase coal-related jobs. USA Today states that the Trump administration “politicizes environmental regulation by linking it to employment,” and goes on to say that the decline in the coal industry actually comes from competition from gas, solar and wind power. These efforts to nullify the true drasticity of the state of our global climate delay the much-needed progress we need to save our planet.

However, midterm elections are coming. And while it may seem difficult to focus on climate change while having to sift through the hundreds of other news headlines and issues that could influence how people vote, it’s important to pause and consider electing candidates that will give climate change the proper focus and attention it needs.

Surveys conducted by Yale and George Mason universities in May found that Democrats ranked global warming fourth amongst issues that would impact how they will vote in the midterm elections this November. Additionally, only two percent of all American voters ranked global warming as their most important issue when voting.

This may be due to the fact that candidates frequently neglect to address climate change in political advertisements, and California Gov. Jerry Brown, one of the nation’s lead advocates of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is quoted in a Politico article saying: “It’s too remote. It’s not today. It’s not conflict. So that’s where we are, and climate change is not jobs, not taxes, it’s not violent crime. It’s not sex. And it’s not immigration.”

However, just because climate change may not seem entirely present or immediate as some of the issues faced by millions today, the effects are still beginning to loom over us. The most recent devastation comes in the form of Hurricane Michael affecting 1.6 million homes and businesses in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.

The issue of climate change should be on the forefront of voters minds as numerous scientific sources are making factual claims repeatedly to educate. These claims include: “scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal,” from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; “human activities are responsible for almost all of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the last 150 years,” says a study from the Environmental Protection Agency and “observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver,” quoted from NASA.

These are reputable scientific sources that know what they are talking about. Climate change is happening, and it’s affecting the human population across the globe. The time for denial must be over, and we must walk down the road of acceptance and responsibility in order to help save our planet.

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