Dear Editor: July was the hottest month in human history, Aug 2018-July 2019 were the wettest 12 months in the U.S. in 124 years, 18 of the hottest years ever recorded occurred since 2000 – so, climate change is already hard upon us. Yet, the average global temperature has increased by only 1.4 degrees F. since the Industrial Revolution.

The Paris Climate Accord set a target of keeping global warming below 3.6 degrees F. (2 C.). However, the 2018 IPCC special report indicated that the most catastrophic changes can be avoided only if global warming stays below 2.7 degrees F.

Even at 1.4 degrees F., we see polar vortices freezing the eastern U.S., stalled hurricanes dropping 5+ feet of rain in Texas, mid-May California rains dropping 10 times more rain than the previous record … and we’re only halfway to the lower target for limiting global warming to avoid the REAL disasters!

The science of greenhouse gases is 150 years old; reliable climate models have been around for 40 years; and, more than 97% of professional climate scientists agree that the warming is due to human activities.

The good news is that since we caused it, we can fix it. We can reverse global warming by reducing the 110 million tons of greenhouse gases we are pumping into the atmosphere daily. The bad news is that the time left to avoid even greater weather disruptions (and the ensuing social upheaval) grows shorter every day.

Because we continue to increase our greenhouse gases emissions, we don’t really know what the final concentration of those gases will be, what the ultimate global temperature will be, or what specific climate changes will occur.

Will we have a climate that supports sufficient agriculture to feed the world’s population? Will the tropics become too hot for people to live without massive infrastructure to keep them cool? Will we have to abandon coastal areas or build levees to keep back rising sea levels, especially higher storm surges during more intense storms?

Skeptics got one aspect of the climate change discussion right. We aren’t certain what will be the consequences of our dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at rates not seen in 66 million years. However, the 21st Century has already given society a glimpse of what could be coming, and it’s not pretty.

Are you willing to bet your kids’ and grandkids’ future on this being an unusual 40-year stretch of “bad weather” when the science tells us clearly that we are the cause? Wouldn’t it be better to recognize the signs, trust the evidence-based science, and work toward a better, safer future?

Please support data-based decisions on policies to fight global warming, make changes in your personal life to reduce your impact, and elect leaders who will make those extremely tough choices.

It’s not a partisan issue; no group, political party, ideology, religion, or country has all the answers. These challenging times require everyone to pull together to win the war of our own making, for our future and that of all subsequent generations.

Bill Gorham

Brookings

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