As we endure what seems like the hottest summer ever (and it may be) many are discussing climate change. It is tempting to allow short term weather phenomenon (such as record snowfall last winter or the record high temperature we experienced yesterday) to influence our view of climate change. However, the evidence supporting climate change is not in short term events but rather in long term observations of both temperature and atmospheric conditions.
So is the earth heating up? Among credible scientific organizations around the world, climate change is an accepted fact. In addition, essentially every scientific organization that has taken a stand on the issue attributes the increase in temperature to anthropogenic emissions. One of the last credible organizations to modify its position on this issue was the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, which in 2007 updated its 1999 statement rejecting the likelihood of human influence on recent climate with its current non-committal position.
There are those however who maintain that climate change is a hoax. And these skeptics seem to align with the Republican Party. As the UK Guardian reported yesterday:
“Mitt Romney, arguably the leading Republican candidate for president of the United States in the 2012 election, recently significantly diminished his prospects for obtaining the support he needs from the right wing of his party. How did he do this? He simply declared that he believes the Earth is warming, and that human activities are responsible. To most scientists, such a statement would be considered fairly innocuous, and an accurate assessment of current understanding. But to a large fraction of the US Republican party, this is a completely unacceptable position – ranking alongside gay marriage, gun control and abortion rights. Anthropogenic climate change has become a litmus test for Republicans in the United States.
If you want to appeal to the hard core of the party – those whom you need in order to obtain the party’s nomination – you simply can not acknowledge what almost every national science academy and scientific organisation has accepted for many years. In fact, many other prominent Republicans, sensing the winds of retribution, have already back-tracked on whatever previous statements they might have made, if they contained even a whiff of climate reality. Given the importance of getting the United States on board to obtain a comprehensive international agreement on controlling greenhouse gases, this dismissal of scientific evidence about global warming is both sad and alarming.”
Efforts in Congress to address climate change appear to be at a standstill. The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454 ) would have established a variant of an emissions trading plan similar to the European Union Emission Trading Scheme. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives on June 26, 2009 by a vote of 219-212, but died in the Senate.
Since then, Congress has walked back from attempting to pass climate change legislation.
This “debate” will continue as the country endures what may prove to be the warmest year on record.
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