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Op/Ed: The nation’s national climate agenda has been paralyzed

Four years of Donald Trump and a year and a half of Joe Manchin nearly paralyzed our national climate agenda.

No good news here: Key IPCC findings on climate change
Attribution science quantifiesg the extent to which human-induced global heating increases the intensity and/or likelihood of a specific extreme weather event such as a heatwave, a hurricane or a wildfire - Copyright AFP/File AMOS GUMULIRA
Attribution science quantifiesg the extent to which human-induced global heating increases the intensity and/or likelihood of a specific extreme weather event such as a heatwave, a hurricane or a wildfire - Copyright AFP/File AMOS GUMULIRA

After four years of Donald Trump and a year and a half of Joe Manchin, our national climate agenda is in shambles. Add a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court and President Joe Biden’s package of policies to reduce climate-warning pollution is dead.

And to make matters worse, this comes at a time when the UK is experiencing its highest temperatures on record – with temperatures shooting up to over 40 degrees Celsius or about 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fires in France, Greece, Portugal, and Spain have forced thousands of residents and tourists to flee and killed several people, including a Spanish shepherd and a firefighter, according to the AFP.

In the United States, parts of the Southwest and the Central Plains are bracing for temperatures that could reach 110 degrees this week, while the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma has seen more 100+ degree days this year than ever, reports the New York Times.

Heatwaves becoming more frequent and hotter

Heatwaves have become more frequent and lasting longer than they have in the past. Over the past decade, daily record high temperatures have occurred twice as often as record lows across the continental United States

In Europe, the same thing is happening. In the past two decades, the continent has experienced five of its hottest summers since 1500. In the 2003 heatwave, over 70,000 people died, according to an EU study of 16 nations.

Heat waves are more dangerous when combined with high humidity. The combination of temperature and humidity is measured by the heat index. A recent study projects that the annual number of days with a heat index above 100 degrees F will double when compared to the end of the 20th century.

The signs are all around us, from droughts that are lasting longer and drying up lakes and reservoirs, to horrendous wildfires resulting in the loss of lives, homes, and even whole towns.

It is fair to say that rising temperatures across the U.S. and the world pose a threat to people, ecosystems, and the global economy.

President Donald Trump on June 1, 2017 adressed the nation and the world, saying: The United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country. Source – The White House Office of the Press Secretary

Leadership in the climate crisis is needed

The New York Times points out that in the face of these mounting signs and costs of climate change, the U.S. federal government is choosing not to address the problem.

And, of course, they mention what everyone in America already knows – Senator Joe Manchin’s withdrawal of support for Biden’s climate policy, and the Supreme Court’s restriction of the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to reduce pollution at power plants.

Jonathan Weisman and Jazmine Ulloa, writing for the New York Times, puts the problem squarely on the table; They write: “Climate change remains an issue with little political power, either for those pressing for dramatic action or for those standing in the way.”

If you look at the troubled Biden presidency – you can see that he has been fighting a losing battle with our divided Congress, as well as our divided country over just about everything he has tried to do.

With soaring inflation, getting over a two-year global pandemic, and trying to adjust to the end of constitutionally protected abortions, it is no wonder to me that the public isn’t focused on climate change.

But – the U.S. really has to regain its position as a global leader in the climate fight. When President Trump got us out of the Paris Climate agreement after he took office, the rest of the world had to look elsewhere for leadership, and now, we are going to need to claw our way back to the top.

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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