A Case for Climate Action

Cedar Rapids Flood

Cedar Rapids Flood

Four former administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, William D. Ruckelshaus, from its founding in 1970 until 1973, and again from 1983 until 1985; Lee M. Thomas, from 1985 until 1989; William K. Reilly, from 1989 until 1993; and Christine Todd Whitman, from 2001 until 2003, have called for the United States to move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally. They are all Republicans.

They wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times, which can be read here. The crux of the letter pertinent to our series of posts on climate change is the following:

“There is no longer any credible scientific debate about the basic facts: our world continues to warm, with the last decade the hottest in modern records, and the deep ocean warming faster than the earth’s atmosphere. Sea level is rising. Arctic Sea ice is melting years faster than projected.

The costs of inaction are undeniable. The lines of scientific evidence grow only stronger and more numerous. And the window of time remaining to act is growing smaller: delay could mean that warming becomes ‘locked in.'”

On June 25, 2013, President Obama spoke about climate change at Georgetown University. He said, “as a President, as a father, and as an American, I’m here to say we need to act.” The president matched his words with a plan for climate action.

On Aug. 11, 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrote, “unfortunately, too many elected officials in Washington still talk about climate change as if it doesn’t exist. They falsely claim scientists are still debating whether carbon pollution is warming the planet. It’s time for us all— whether we’re leaders in Washington, members of the media, scientists, academics, environmentalists or utility industry executives— to stop acting like those who deny this crisis exists have a valid point of view. They don’t.”

People like Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma have begun to line up to fight against President Obama’s agenda on climate change, complaining that the president’s staff created a list of political talking points to support his plan. Lucky for us, Inhofe is using as his moral authority a survey of weathercasters. What do weathercasters, people who read weathercasts on the radio or television, know about the science of climate change? Inhofe obfuscated the difference between weathercasters in the survey and meteorologists, not to mention climate scientists, to make his point. This seems typical of climate change deniers.

From my experience of advocating for the New Start Treaty in the U.S. Senate during 2010, something is beginning to happen regarding climate action in Washington. Politicians, Republican and Democratic, don’t make statements like these unless there is.

While I was in Chicago on Aug. 1, the Climate Reality Project announced a partnership with Organizing for Action to support the president’s climate action plan. Inhofe was right about one thing, the forces for good are lining up to get something done about climate change.

“Something is happening but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mister Jones?” Well maybe you should, as all the signs are present.

~ This is part of a series of summer posts on climate change written for Blog for Iowa.

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