Editorials

Pick up the pace to battle destructive climate change in the United States

A firefighter sprayed a hot spot on Wednesday near Keenbrook, Calif.
A firefighter sprayed a hot spot on Wednesday near Keenbrook, Calif. The Associated Press

The climate change evidence keeps building, creating a new political urgency for the nations of the world to do more to avert a global crisis.

The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration this week reported that July was the hottest month on record.

July also was the 15th month in a row to break the monthly heat record. The data go back to 1880.

An Environmental Protection Agency report this month adds more evidence to the growing problem that the Earth’s temperature is rising, and human consumption of fossil fuel is largely to blame. The Climate Change Indicators in the United States report includes 37 climate indicators, measuring U.S. and global temperatures, the sea level, ocean acidity, droughts, river flooding and wildfires.

“Nationwide, unusually hot summer days (highs) have become more common over the last few decades,” the report said. “Unusually hot summer nights (lows) have become more common at an even faster rate. … Although the United States has experienced many winters with unusually low temperatures, unusually cold winter temperatures have become less common — particularly very cold nights (lows).”

The report notes more rain falling over land in the U.S. and other parts of the world.

Flooding has become more of a concern across parts of the Northeast and Midwest and less so in the West, southern Appalachia and northern Michigan.

This month, the southern part of Louisiana has been slammed with rainfall and flooding, with authorities estimating that 40,000 homes have been damaged, about a dozen people killed and more than 30,000 have had to be rescued.

President Barack Obama declared a number of parishes disaster areas, enabling residents to apply for grants and loans to help them clean up and rebuild.

At the other extreme, the EPA report notes that droughts also are a major problem. From 2000 to 2015, “20 to 70 percent of the U.S. land area experienced conditions that were at least abnormally dry at any given time.”

In California, five years of drought have turned the state’s wildlands into a tinder box, with several fires burning from Shasta County in the far north to Camp Pendleton just north of San Diego. Thousands of people in Southern California have had to flee devastating wildfires that have spread across nearly 50 square miles and consumed a number of homes and businesses.

This is the second year that wildfires from the ongoing drought have consumed property and caused residents to become global warming refugees.

The Paris climate change summit last year was a coordinated response of many nations to try to arrest the warming of the planet. But clearly conservation and switching to green energy sources is not occurring fast enough to arrest the global warming problem.

Candidates in the races for president and congressional seats need to focus on climate change ahead of the November elections.

Elected officials need to have a greater sense of urgency in 2017 to reduce greenhouse gas production, increase conservation and accelerate solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal sources of energy.

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