In a blunt letter to Congress, 31 leading scientific societies reaffirmed the reality that humans are causing climate change and only we can stop it. “To reduce the risk of the most severe impacts of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must be substantially reduced,” they write.
Yes, this is the umpteenth report from scientists — see, for instance, “Climate Scientists: We’re Alarmed. Here’s Why You Should Be, Too” and “IPCC Scientists Emphasize Immorality Of Inaction By Focusing On ‘Irreversible Impacts’.” Heck, it’s not even the first letter to Congress from most of these groups — 18 of them wrote a similar letter back in 2009.
But as long as the media still gives presidential candidates (and pretty much every other major politician) a free pass on this most preventable of existential threats to America, scientists will have to keep “reminding” policymakers of the broad scientific understanding about human-caused climate change.
After all, if you are a smoker, and your doctor told you a long time ago to quit or you’d start getting a bad cough and worse, she doesn’t stop telling you to quit when you show up years later coughing with early stage emphysema.
“Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research concludes that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver,” explain the 31 scientific groups. “This conclusion is based on multiple independent lines of evidence and the vast body of peer-reviewed science.’”
The letter notes, “There is strong evidence that ongoing climate change is having broad negative impacts on society, including the global economy, natural resources, and human health.” Significantly, this statement is considerably stronger than a2009 letter sent from scientific groups, which only warned of the impacts to come: “Moreover, there is strong evidence that ongoing climate change will have broad impacts on society, including the global economy and on the environment.”
Now the broad negative impacts are here, just as the scientific community predicted. What are they? “For the United States, climate change impacts include greater threats of extreme weather events, sea level rise, and increased risk of regional water scarcity, heat waves, wildfires, and the disturbance of biological systems.”
Each time we come back to the doctor, our cough is worse, and the doctor tells us the evidence is even more incontrovertible that smoking is making us sicker — and that it can get much, much worse if we don’t listen to her advice.
And so the country’s leading scientific organizations warn Congress, “The severity of climate change impacts is increasing and is expected to increase substantially in the coming decades.”
And they want us to know all these conclusions “reflect the scientific consensus represented by, for example, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the U.S. National Academies, and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”
The good news is that it’s not too late for serious action to yield enormous benefits: “To reduce the risk of the most severe impacts of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must be substantially reduced.”
Of course, too many in Congress still say, “But doc [cough], the tobacco companies [cough] say these coughs that keep getting worse [cough] have nothing to do with their product [cough].”
That’s why, in November, we need to elect people who aren’t in such denial.