Editorials

Trump says, I ‘don’t see’ climate change. Voters must say, ‘Open your eyes, man.’

Is climate change making hurricanes worse? Yes, here’s why.

Rising ocean temperatures have fueled some of the most devastating storms in recent years. Kendra Pierre-Louis, a reporter on The New York Time's climate team, explains how.
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Rising ocean temperatures have fueled some of the most devastating storms in recent years. Kendra Pierre-Louis, a reporter on The New York Time's climate team, explains how.

Citing his “very high” intelligence, President Donald Trump dismissed his own government’s new warnings about the intensifying effects of climate change.

“As to whether or not it’s man-made and whether or not the effects that you’re talking about are there, I don’t see it,” Trump told the Washington Post on Tuesday.

To which everyone should shout, “Open your eyes, man.”

Trump’s outsized ego may be unusual, but his indifference to the scientific consensus on global warming is common among Republican politicians and even some Democrats in Kentucky.

Future generations will never understand — or forgive — this political failure in light of overwhelming scientific consensus and increasing evidence that anyone can observe.

Why, they will wonder, did a president and a major political party actively obstruct solutions? Why did the United States fail to lead in response to a crisis that less than a decade ago was a concern shared by Republicans and Democrats alike?

We have the capacity — technolgical and economic — to “manage unavoidable changes and avoid unmanageable changes,” as the Fourth National Climate Assessment puts it — but only if we act soon and with other nations to reduce carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Considering the efforts to mislead the public and even malign scientists, it’s understandable that people are confused or throwing up their hands and saying it’s too overwhelming to try to figure out.

But only voters can save us, given the vacuum of leadership at the top and the hold that special interests have on our lawmakers.

If you want a Kentucky with more droughts and gully-washer storms, more disease-bearing mosquitoes and ticks, more invasive plant species crowding out crops and pasture, more gray 100-degree days when being outdoors induces heat sickness and the air you breathe poisons your lungs, more floods and tornadoes, well, keep electing people who will resist any change in our energy habits.

Likewise, if you want a world where climate-driven mass migration breeds suffering, conflict and war; we’re on track for that, too.

“Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities,” according to the National Climate Assessment, mandated every four years by Congress and issued last week by 13 federal agencies. The report incorporates the work of 300 authors.

The goverment agencies and experts who put together the assessment also warn that the harmful effects of climate change will fall hardest, not on the Donald Trumps and Mitch McConnells of the world, but on their low-income constituents.

“The impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future — but the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the changes that will occur.”

Trump was right about one thing: “You look at our air and our water, and it’s right now at a record clean.” That would not be true, though, had we heeded those who said pollution control would cost too much, destroy jobs and hurt the economy. Those same voices now warn against investing in technology to curb climate change. They were wrong then, they’re wrong now. Bowing to them will spell a catastrophe that with leadership can be avoided.

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