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Your Turn: Climate closely related to state of our union

Opening his State of the Union Address, President Trump acknowledged the heroic first responders who came to the aid of victims in the floods that devastated south Texas and in the wildfires of California. Too bad he didn’t mention what made these natural disasters so deadly and costly: climate change.

2017 had record-shattering natural disasters producing damage estimated between $300 billion and $400 billion. The severe weather behind these disasters has worsened over the years because of rising temperatures. I am a member of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, and we have assembled some of last year’s most costly disasters:

  • Hurricane Harvey, which dumped more than four feet of rain in the Houston area. Ball State University estimates this disaster cost $198 billion.
  • Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm with sustained winds of 185 mph. Damage is estimated at $66 billion.
  • Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico and caused close to $100 billion in damage. Many Puerto Ricans still lack electricity and clean water.
  • In California, drenching rain early in the year produced vegetation that became kindling during the summer because of dry, hot air (San Francisco hit 106 degrees). The result: California experienced its most destructive wildfire season in history with $13 billion in damage.

We work to discover the facts. Here is what we have found. Both NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed that 2017 was the hottest year on record without an El Nino. As the trend for global warming continues up, we can expect such natural disasters to be more intense and more frequent, eventually outpacing our ability to respond and adapt.

Clearly, responding to threats is a priority of President Trump’s. Climate change is a clear and present danger, according to his own military leaders. In 2017, Trump’s secretary of defense, James Mattis, told the U.S. Senate that “Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today.”

In the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, the military warned that climate change is a “threat multiplier,” aggravating issues like poverty, political instability and social tensions. On our own shores, rising seas threaten our military bases, from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine to the Eglin Air Force Base on the Florida panhandle.

While the executive branch remains stubbornly ignorant on this issue, lawmakers see it with clearer eyes. In December, 106 members of Congress sent President Trump a letter asking him to include climate change in America’s National Security Strategy. “It is imperative that the United States addresses this growing geopolitical threat,” stated the letter, signed by Republicans and Democrats alike.

And the bipartisan effort for climate action grows with each passing month. In the House of Representatives, the Climate Solutions Caucus had 18 members at the start of the 115th Congress, half Republican and half Democrat. Since then, its ranks have steadily increased to 68 members, 34 Republican and 34 Democrat.

Caucus co-chair Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Florida, has said, “I came to realize that this issue was hyper-politicized and highly polarized. And we knew that unless we worked to change that, to extract some of the politics from the issue … then it would be very hard to have a rational conversation about what’s happening and what we can do about it.”

What can we do about it?

A solution that finds support from conservatives and liberals alike is an approach known as Carbon Fee and Dividend. This policy would put a fee on all oil, gas and coal we use in the United States. That would make clean energy cheaper and more attractive than dirty, polluting energy. The money raised would be returned to Americans in the form of a monthly rebate. In 20 years, Carbon Fee and Dividend would reduce our CO2 emissions 50 percent below 1990 levels. Plus, it would create jobs and put money into the pockets of hard-working Americans, so people can adapt and prosper.

Despite the president’s omission, it’s obvious that the state of our union is closely linked to the state of our climate, and it’s encouraging to see that Republicans and Democrats in Congress understand the risks our nation faces from a failure to act. When Congress introduces and passes bipartisan climate legislation, the state of our union will be undeniably stronger.

— Tony Schmidt is the state coordinator for Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Comments

Richard Heckler

President Trump,many members of his campaign troop, many other ALEC conservatives and campaign contributors are guilty of un-american activity and criminal activity which is why they are participating in massive obstruction tactics and Character Assassinations of:

The FBI

Mueller Investigation

Democrats 

Obama

moderate voters 

women

the press that reports their unethical behavior

In essence this group of dirty politicians places the nations security , climate, public education, women, voting rights, working class wages, world peace and the economy at risk every day.

3 months, 3 weeks ago

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Gary Stussie

Same TDS crap!

Every day more documentation supporting the corruption of the Obama administration is made public. The fact that you ignore it and call the Trump Administration a "group of dirty politicians" demonstrates your extreme partisanship.

Trump is the President. Put something on your rash and try to come up with something positive to say.

3 months, 1 week ago

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Armen Kurdian

Richard, this may come as a shock, but no one listens to you anymore because each one of your posts is a flail-ex...massive arm-waving and shouting with no substance or direction. Quite frankly, most folks just see your name and skip over it.

3 months ago

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Ken Lassman

The idea, Richard, is to rise above the partisan bickering over climate, find the common ground outlined by the hard facts that clearly show the reality and human sources of climate change and are recognized in every other country in the world and our own military (and energy companies, for that matter). We need to put aside the silly pseudo-controversy in order to address how to economically finance the transition to a low carbon economy that will create millions of new jobs, stimulate innovation that we can also export to other growing economies to help them develop in a low carbon fashion, and minimize the increasingly extreme weather consequences that grow with each passing year that we continue to emit carbon into the atmosphere at rates that are faster than the capacity of the planet to reabsorb it.

3 months, 2 weeks ago

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David Reynolds

It took until the end of your article Tony, but you finally got there...carbon tax.

You are and others are walking & talking advertisements for Al Gore and his cohort of charlatan investors. As far back as 2009, there were reports that Al Gore could become the first carbon billionaire. Of course this money would go to support his mansion, private jet journeys and his luxurious lifestyle.

By the way, all of those folks driving Prius's will pay more for energy to drive their cars as they are electrified by coal burning plants.

How is all of that solar energy working out cost wise. Those vicious utility companies raising their costs to consumers due to reduced demand.

By the way, another one of those disaster claims from the climate alarmists just went down the tubes. In 2004 the South Pacific Islands of Tuvalu were sinking supposedly due to "Global Warming".
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/scienc...

But, today there is an article out that says the islands of Tuvalu are actually growing in size.
https://phys.org/news/2018-02-pacific...

Additionally the polar bears are doing just fine

How embarrassing it must be that all of those hysterical claims, over the years, are not coming true.

Mother earth has dealt with many calamities over the eons, and managed to correct itself just fine, to give us this blue ball that is tuned for life.

Tony, one needs to remember that just 167 years ago the last ice age was officially declared over. What would one expect would happen after the end of the ice age...the earth would warm!

3 months, 2 weeks ago

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Ken Lassman

David,
You have never been serious about looking objectively at the evidence for human activity-triggered climate change, so why should we think you've changed your tune? Your Tuvalu article is symptomatic of your commitment to climate change denial: if you bothered to read the article, it confirms that sea levels are indeed rising there, but the accumulation of sediment against the atoll is increasing its size despite the confirmed sea level rises. Puh-lease.....

The renewables industry is real, it's global, and it's growing quickly, particularly in Asian and African countries where the lion's share of population growth will be occurring in the coming decades, so you should be thankful for that. China is quickly taking leadership in the dissemination of these new technologies, in the same way that Japan and later other Asian countries left Detroit in the dust when US manufacturers refused to pay heed to the writing on the wall about continuing to make gas guzzling big cars. Will we repeat the mistakes made by Detroit? I certainly hope not.

3 months, 1 week ago

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David Reynolds

Ken, you are a believer in man mad global warming, and you have that right. That's great! Climate skeptics also have that same right, but the believers can’t allow a denier to have their right without trying to annoyingly try to convince the deniers they are wrong. So I will explain my position, as simply as I can, one last time.

From a denial perspective you also fail to admit that everybody from Al Gore to all the "scientists" that have fudged/distorted the data to the point no one, not even you can absolutely without any qualification, say the data is entirely accurate. The so-called climate industry itself has admitted their models are inaccurate. They are full of fudge factors to try to correlate the complexities of the climate elements interactions (which are not even remotely fully understood by the scientists doing the modeling) from the various climate factors such as the sun, clouds, sea & land temperatures, foliage CO2 absorption (or even account for foliage increasing due to CO2), ice, etc. Overtime these models have made all kinds of predictions...we are still waiting!

Yes, the climate models are run with varying assumptions to try to predict a "range" of outcomes. The only problem with those results is the models themselves. The models don't correctly model the interactions of the various climate elements influencing the earth's climate in the first place. That is because the scientists don't understand what they are modeling. If the mathematics & assumptions built into the models are inaccurate, how can any model give accurate results?

I am glad the renewables are going so well. I believe that is good for society. You must admit though that the renewable energy industry couldn't survive so well without tax subsidies. If that industry is to become a reliable source of energy, it must find a way to become economical. One must ask why aren't arrays of solar panels on every home, or even most homes? The answer lies in the cost. What few arrays there are, are found in more affluent neighborhoods.

The problem with renewables, is they are costly, and the only way they are going to become a reliable energy source or even survive is if the subsidies go away, and the industry is forced to innovate.

Yes, I do agree any subsidies going to carbon energy sources should stop.

So yes, Ken, I am a "Man-Made" global warming skeptic.

Do I believe the earth may be warming, yes, but not because man is causing it, but because it has only been about 167 years since the end of the last Ice Age...so what would any reasonable person expect?

3 months, 1 week ago

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Daniel Kennamore

"Climate skeptics also have that same right"

No, David, you do not have a right to your own set of facts.

Climate change deniers have no leg to stand on scientifically, so why do we need to accommodate them in policy?

3 months, 1 week ago

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Ken Lassman

David, allow me to address your position one last time:

There is absolutely no doubt that there are inaccurate data somewhere supporting the conclusion that humans are changing the climate. The scientific endeavor is designed to ferret out those mistakes and this is a never ending process. This is why the conclusion that humans changing the chemistry of the atmosphere and oceans is increasingly accepted: the data is becoming increasingly robust. The numbers have better and better predictive value; the models have more and more accurate "hindcasting" capacity, and the new data only reinforce these.

This is in stark contrast with denialists whose cherry picked critiques offer no alternative physical models to explain the data in any meaningful or comprehensive way. I repeat my challenge for you to produce such a physical model that can explain the observed data from a wide range of phenomena, ranging from shifting species ranges, ocean acidity and temperatures, sea level rise, stratospheric and tropospheric temperatures, extreme weather frequency and intensity, and on and on.

Regarding subsidies, I find it interesting you focus on the renewables subsidies (which is very common and justifiable in an emerging industry) but neglect to mention the huge subsidies that have accompanied fossil fuels for much of their lives, let alone nuclear power subsidies and waived liabilities. And it's really not subsidies that are driving the explosive growth of renewables: it is much easier to make solar and wind scalable without the needed safeguards and permits that are part and parcel of centralized coal and nuclear power plants. That's why new energy production around the world is going to solar and wind turbines, along with cheap natural gas that is acting like a transition strategy to cut carbon emissions significantly while still producing centralized power production where it's still necessary. Almost all utilities in the US are retiring their oldest coal power plants, replacing them with a combination of energy efficiency initiatives and scalable solar and wind. Contrary to what you say, it's rapidly becoming the cheapest way to produce a new kilowatt of power in much of the country, Kansas included. The Holcomb power plant in western Kansas will most likely never be built for this reason plus the fact that heavy duty subsidies would be required to finance that project.

You are entitled to believe anything you want, David; just as Detroit believed that the world would continue to buy gas guzzlers forever. That belief, however, didn't work out so well with Detroit, and the energy production industry is spending most of its time trying to figure out how to extend the fossil fuel age long enough to make a profit from their huge investments in that field, while at the same time switching over to renewables as quickly as it can.

3 months, 1 week ago

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David Reynolds

Ken, accepted really? By by whom, others that generate the data? That's part of the climate data's problem, acceptance has proved to be mostly circular, & thus self-reinforcing. All to keep those grants coming in. I believe that is the crux of the problem with the climate alarmist industry. They have to perpetuate their position to keep the fat grants coming. There is an old saying...."Never mess with a gravy train"!

Cherry picked data by denialist...really?...that's the p[ot calling the kettle black! You have outdone yourself. The climate alarmists are notorious for cherry picking their data they want to use. That is the problem with most of it. The man made climate alarmists cherry pick the data to match their hypothesis. And you say denialists cherry pick data? We identify the outright distortions, used by alarmists in the face of easily identified accurate data. You see, denialists marvel at that those alarmists substituting false data, modifying real data, or leaving out real data they believe will not support their preconceived hypothesis, not thinking that real info is easily available to expose their shenanigans. That takes real chutzpah on the part of the alarmists.

Ken I have not denied the desirability of renewable energy sources. I am saying it is time it stood on it's own without subsidies. You also missed my comment that carbon based fuels should have their subsidies removed as well. Let the market place decide which source off energy to use. Not all renewable energy sources are economical in all areas. Example the sunbelt is better for solar. The coasts and some areas of the plains are better for wind, & hydro is better where ocean currents & rivers can justify it. The key is consistently reliable,. 24/7/365, sources, or combinations of sources for different areas of each country & places in the world.

Reliability, 24/7/365, is critical for hospitals, manufacturing, offices & homes.

Your argument about the automobile industry equally applies to the renewable energy sector. Every day citizens can't afford to invest in solar to any scale due to it's cost. Unreliability makes it unattractive to some especially when you consider ROI. By making your argument against Detroit, you don't give credit to the industry working overtime to try to incorporate technology that makes the automobile drive further without having to rely on carbon fuels, or having to stop to recharge at an electrical charging station, which uses carbon fuels. Single source renewable fuels for automobiles face the same problem renewables face for homes & businesses...cost & reliability.

Continued below.

3 months, 1 week ago

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David Reynolds

Continued from above.
Your statement regarding the "energy industry is trying to extend the fossil fuel age doesn't equally apply to the auto industry. The automobile industry is trying to meet a market demand, and is moving as fast as it can to make renewables happen. The problems are (1) reliability, &* (2) cost to the consumer. The average car buyer can not afford high automobile costs. I know this about the auto industry as my brother has worked in the industry for 37 years as an industrial engineer. He has been part of the complete computerization of the automobile and is seeing the auto industry R&D budgets shift to renewables. So please give credit where credit is due.

I believe the "Man Made Global Warming Industry" & it's alarmists would have made more progress if, instead of concocting the alarmist agenda to sell their idea, they should instead have marketed their agenda based on practical issues the average person would easily understand & accept in large numbers.

The one event that continually causes folks to laugh at the global warming agenda is good ole Al Gore, giving his annual global warming message on the coldest, snowiest day of each year. His message gets lost in the visual message surrounding his talk!

3 months, 1 week ago

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Ken Lassman

Hmmm....I'm tempted to just ignore you, David, since you don't really have anything of substance here. You complain about how scientists are driven by the grant funding "gravy train," and yet how does this distinguish climate science from any other scientific profession? Do you dismiss the advances in high energy physics, molecular biology, chemistry, or your pick of other highly technical scientific enterprises using the same critique that you use for summarily dismissing the fields of atmospheric chemistry and physics, oceanography, marine and terrestrial ecology, among many others, for their study of and findings concerning climate change?

I see no reason at all to accept your broad brush generalizations that result in your personally rejecting climate change and humanity's role in it, as well as the severity of the problem. I prefer to defer to the considerably more definitive conclusions of the American Geophysical Union, the AAAS, the American Chemical Society, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and on and on and on. Here's a link to the literally hundreds of scientific organizations around the world (pretty much all of them) who have come to the same conclusion: http://opr.ca.gov/facts/list-of-scien...

Finally, David, you seem to not grasp the nature of renewable energy as it interfaces with the rest of the energy producing and distribution grid. The transition that is well underway but still in the early stages in the US is a gradual one that includes transitioning from aging central power plants, electric grid upgrades, improved energy efficiencies in manufacturing, residential and transportation sectors, innovative financing and investment strategies, and lots of redundancy that ensures a reliable energy supply as we transition to a low carbon power supply and economy. In other parts of the world, there will be countries which make the transition to a renewable energy based economy by skipping some of the steps in the same way as they did transitioning to cellular phones without land lines. You need to stop drinking the kool-ade of the denialists and get up to speed before you embarrass yourself further. David. Best wishes in doing just that.

3 months, 1 week ago

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David Reynolds

Well Ken, if I don't have anything of substance to say what does that say ab out you? All I am doing is just responding to your comments. What is so enlightening about your comments?

Ken there are many advances occurring in many technical fields. So what does that have to say about those manipulating the data?

Ken, as usual you read what you want. I have never rejected global warming per se. What I reject is the "Man Made Global Warming Hypothesis" presented by the alarmists. You ignore what I have said before about the end of the last ice age, and it's effects on today's climate.

That's part of the weakness of the anthropogenic argument, is separating out the difference between what is happening due to earth's natural cycles, the sun cycles, etc. All the alarmists can say is something happened based on their assumptions. They can't differentiate what is happening into it's constituent parts of natural earth cycles (air quality, clouds, natural warming & cooling, sun, foliage growth, etc) & artificial influences.

You can ignore me all you want, just as you ignore the problems with info supporting the man made global warming hypothesis.

By the way talk about deniers. Where what happened to the prediction of excessive warming while the earth's temperature stayed low due to low sun spot activity, for what a decade?

3 months, 1 week ago

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Ken Lassman

Let me be very specific since it appears to go right over your head, David:

-You criticize those doing research on the climate for bellying up to the "gravy train" when they are just doing the same kind of grant-funded research that typifies all major scientific undertakings. This is a bogus criticism without merit.

-Data analytic methods used in climate research are exactly the same type of statistically valid techniques used in other sciences, so your criticism of their being used in this field is hypocritical at best; purposefully manipulative at worst. Give me an example where statistically invalid manipulation has been occurring and I will show you that research being challenged and not accepted--period. I can provide you with many examples from the "denialist" camp if you want to play that game.

-Regarding your not accepting the human activity global warming hypothesis; as I have already stated: this puts you at odds with the vast majority of the scientific community, as is evidenced by the long list of professional organizations that I provided you that has concluded exactly the opposite. I stand with them, not you.

-Your stating that the "alarmist" community is unable to sort out the difference between human and non-human factors is simply wrong: this is one of the prime areas that research has focused on for the past 30 years. Just because you are unaware of the considerable body of research on this topic does not mean that it doesn't exist or that it has been unable to distinguish carbon emitted by an automobile and a volcano, for instance. That's just flat out wrong.

So what is emerging is your ignorance on what the nature of the research that has been done, the evidence it has uncovered, and the degree of acceptance it has garnered from professionals across the entire scientific spectrum. It is not my job to change your mind, just to point out that you are going against the grain of virtually the entire scientific community and instead siding with a little splinter group of fossil fuel industry funded contrarians. And like them, you are ignorant of or choose to ignore the continually accumulating data that strengthens the hypothesis that humans have changed the earth's atmospheric and oceanic chemistry by emitting carbon at a rate faster than the natural systems can absorb it. So be it. But don't expect such gratuitous distortions to go unchallenged. There is no room for such an anti-scientific stance to pass as the "truth."

3 months, 1 week ago

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Bob Summers

Why is the "alarmist community", people that are emotionally hypersensitive, all congenital Liberals?

The Liberal genetic condition is an entertaining polymorphism of the DRD4 gene.

Do you suppose there are Liberal locust's that alarm the community when the community lands in a wheat field shrilling the food climate is changing as the last of the wheat is eaten?

3 months, 1 week ago

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Ken Lassman

Need I remind you that you yourself have the DRD4 gene, that there are no doubt virulent libertarian conservatives with DRD4 polymorphism, and that you have no criterion for what the genetic makeup of an ideologically pure conservative should look like?

Nah...didn't think so. Nobody meets your mythical standard; not even yourself.

3 months, 1 week ago

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David Reynolds

Ah Ken, your arguments are laced with condescension. Thus trying to portray a superior attitude and knowledge. But alas, your condescending remarks says you have no facts to present so you resort to trying to demean. Ah, the typical alarmist behavior. You are fearlessly trying to defend damaged goods.

Interesting, your thoughts...but to paraphrase Shakespeare: " I think the gentleman doth protest to much".

I wish you well Ken.

3 months, 1 week ago

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Greg Cooper

David, I say this is the kindest way possible: you make condescension easy.

Have a swell day.

3 months, 1 week ago

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Ken Lassman

David,
My arguments are laced with the conclusions of mainstream science, period. The truth as best we can discern is nothing to condescend from--it's something to aspire toward, which is exactly what science aspires to do. I hope that one day you will too, so I wish you well also, David.

3 months, 1 week ago

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Michael Kort

And so .........the Republicans continue Federal Subsidies for Oil, Natural Gas and Coal production,.........while killing subsidies for Wind and Solar ?

Purchased Republican Politicians At Work !

The real villain and threat is not Trump,...... who is a fitting public distraction that signs anything......... but it is the Republican Congress that needs to be replaced with sane people !

The presence of heat or its' absence is what drives weathers' attempts to balance its' own energy distribution globally .

3 months, 1 week ago

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Armen Kurdian

Or maybe it's the deforestation going on in the tropical regions more than what we in the US emit on an annual basis which is a bigger problem. Look at what is happening in Indonesia, their indigenous peoples, and the clear cutting they are doing every year. How much atmospheric cleansing does that eliminate?

The problem is not here in the US.

3 months ago

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Ken Lassman

It's not either/or, it's both and, Armen. Current climate models are quite sophisticated and they incorporate deforestation into consideration, which, by the way is part of the human activity that is changing the climate. If you'd like to look more in-depth about the dynamics, I recommend looking here: http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/ca... I'd start with the Infographics for a quick overview; the full report for more in-depth treatment.

Note that the report cites approximately 1.4 Gigatonnes of Carbon emitted by deforestation in all of the tropics, Indonesia included. At the same time, US industrial carbon emissions were over 4 Giigatonnes for the same year (2016).

3 months ago

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Armen Kurdian

Not that I have a lot of time to read that report, but that 1.4 GT, is that actually emission or simply a measure of what cannot be absorbed per year?

Also, the 4.0 GT figure, and the rest of the carbon emissions, does it measure emission per capita, per GDP, per BTU generated? I've read that the US consumes probably about half of the energy used on the planet anecdotally, I don't know how accurate that is, but we have some of the tightest environmental laws on the planet, so though we use a lot of energy, we burn/generate it a lot cleaner than other countries

2 months, 4 weeks ago

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