PD Editorial: Washington can’t hide alarmingclimate forecast
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse aren't waiting around for the Christian end times. Climate change has queued up Famine, Pestilence, War and Death for the United States by the end of the century, and President Donald Trump and the rest of the climate change deniers in the GOP prefer the public not know about it.
A team of 13 federal agencies and hundreds of scientists assembled the best climate change forecasts in the Fourth National Climate Assessment. The terrible forecast doesn't fit with the Republican agenda, and it only saw the light of day because Congress mandated it decades ago.
If America and the world do nothing to curb climate change, the Four Horsemen will gallop in.
Famine will spread as today's farmlands become too hot for crops. Cows will produce less milk. Rural communities will suffer, including on California's North Coast. Fishing yields will decline in hotter, acidified oceans overrun with red algae blooms.
Pestilence will claim lives as mosquitoes, ticks and other vectors deliver diseases like the Zika virus into parts of the United States now mostly free of them. Asthma and allergies will get worse. Waterborne diseases will spread.
War and international conflict will erupt as low-lying countries flood and changing weather patterns make other places uninhabitable. Domestic and international refugees will compete for increasingly scarce resources.
And Death will wield his scythe as those concurrent catastrophes kill thousands of Americans prematurely every year.
No region of the country will escape unharmed. The national economy will lose hundreds of billions of dollars annually by 2090 due to climate impacts.
Already, California is experiencing devastating wildfires that are at least partly attributable to climate-influenced drought and extreme storms that crash into the coast between the dry periods.
It's not hopeless. America's leaders could start to take the threat seriously and work with other nations to significantly curtail greenhouse gas emissions. The country could invest more heavily in research and adaptation measures that will allow people and industries to weather some of the worst impacts.
None of that is likely under Trump and a Republican-controlled Senate loath to upset big donors whose industries would be hardest hit by climate regulations.
The contradiction between the president's tweets and the scientists' analysis could not be starker. Just days before the report came out, Trump questioned climate change because it was cold outside. Perhaps he forgot that Thanksgiving cold snaps in the northeast states are nothing new.
The most telling evidence that Trump doesn't want Americans to take the threat seriously was in the transparent attempt to bury the report. It was supposed to come out in December, but the administration moved it up to Black Friday, when most people are more concerned with turkey recovery, shopping and football than news.
To Americans' credit, that backfired. The cover-up became a story and climate change a fresh point of weekend conversation.
Despite the overwhelming evidence and dire predictions, there is little chance that federal policies will change in the next two years. States like California can continue to confront the issue, but without new leaders - or a new attitude - in the Senate and White House, working with other nations to confront climate change won't be a priority.
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