Over the weekend, President Obama visited Yosemite National Park. He used the occasion to slam congressional Republicans for their intransigent stance on climate change. While 99% of scientists agree that climate change is real and threatens catastrophic consequences for the earth, only 40% of the members of Congress do.

climate change

Global warming is “no longer a threat, it’s a reality,” Obama said. “Here in Yosemite, meadows are drying up, bird ranges are shifting farther northward, mammals are being forced further upslope. Yosemite’s famous glacier, once a mile wide, is almost gone. We are also facing longer, more expensive wildfire seasons.

“Rising temperatures could mean no more glaciers in Glacier national park, no more Joshua trees in Joshua Tree national park. Rising seas can destroy vital ecosystems in the Everglades and at some point could even threaten icons like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. That’s not the America I want to pass on to the next generation.”

The president attacked those who pay “lip service” to protecting areas of natural beauty and then oppose action on climate change. He also blasted Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for his recent suggestion that he would withdraw the United States from the climate agreement it made at the COP21 conference in Paris last December.

“We can’t treat [climate change] like it’s someone else’s problem. It shouldn’t lead to careless suggestions that we don’t get serious about carbon emissions or that we scrap an international treaty that we spent years putting together to deal with this,” he said. “This park belongs to all of us, this planet belongs to all of us. It’s the only one we’ve got. We can’t pay lip service to that notion and then oppose the things required to protect it. We’ve got to do a lot more. There is such a thing as being too late.”

While Obama visited Yosemite, Secretary of State John Kerry was in Greenland to highlight the impact of climate change on fragile habitats. “I wanted to come up here today to both underscore the urgency but also to learn — and I did learn,” he was quoted as saying by the Washington Post. “I learned more about the threat of the Antarctic, which in many ways is far greater than the threat of the ice melt here in Greenland, what I’ve learned today — and an area where we don’t know enough, where we need to do more research, and where we need to respond to greater effect.”

Just this week, climate scientists have confirmed that a number of temperature and climate records have been broken recently. Data released last week confirm that May was the 13th month in a row to break temperature records. In addition, new records have also been set in recent months for loss of Arctic Sea ice, droughts in India, bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.

“The impacts of human-caused climate change are no longer subtle — they are playing out, in real time, before us,” Prof Michael Mann, at Penn State University in the US, was quoted as saying by The Guardian. “They serve as a constant reminder now of how critical it is that we engage in the actions necessary to avert ever-more dangerous and potentially irreversible warming of the planet.”

Still, the thugs who represent us in Congress continue to use their offices for personal gain as they shovel campaign contributions from fossil fuel interests into their bank accounts as fast as they can. They oppose the Clean Power Plan that would reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired generating plants. They oppose a carbon fee that would level the playing field between fossil fuels and renewables. They refuse to consider a proposal that would increase the price of gasoline by a measly ten cents in order to promote cleaner transportation solutions.

They are perfectly willing to sell you and me down the river if it means they can continue to gorge themselves on the largess of polluters. It is our civic duty to vote those who continually betray the public trust out of office this November.

Source: BusinessGreen | Graphic: CDC.org