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The Heated Debate Over Climate Change

Photo Credit:  www.ete.cet.edu.

Photo Credit: www.ete.cet.edu.

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The debate over climate change has caused a storm over the last few years; but now with President-elect Donald Trump giving the job of head of the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, to Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt, the storm is likely to become a tempest.

“Scott Pruitt rejects the overwhelming scientific evidence that human beings are heating up the planet by burning coal, oil, and natural gas,” reports Sammy Roth, writer for the newspaper The Desert Sun. (http://www.desertsun.com/story/news/environment/2016/12/09/scott-pruitt-trumps-epa-pick-rejects-climate-science-and-fights-fossil-fuels/95200658/) In fact Pruitt has been quoted as saying, “The debate over global warming is far from settled,” according to Roth. It is not surprising that the President-elect chose someone with this mindset since he, at times, has verbalized sentiments that are even stronger. Trump once tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make (the) U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” ( Abby Ohlheiser. (Washington Post, September 27th, 2016). This is just one of over 100 tweets that Trump did in relation to global warming, and in the vast majority of these tweets he clearly denies that such a thing exists, writes Abby Ohlheiser. (Washington Post, September 27th, 2016).

These two leaders are far from the only ones who deny that our planet is getting warmer. Tiffany Germain is a journalist for Moyers & Company. In her article published on February 3rd 2015, she says that over 56% of congressional Republicans from the 114th Congress deny or question whether global warming is real. By contrast, 90% of Democrats and 73% of independents accept it. Since so many of our elected representatives question global warming is there a possibility that many Americans are accepting something that is not a reality?

Not likely, 97% of scientists believe in climate change; but there are dissenters. The few scientists that deny global warming have varying reasons for doing so. Some deny the cause of global warming only, some deny that the effects of global warming will be negative, others claim that what some see as changes in the climate is actually a long term weather pattern, and some deny it in entirety, writes reporter Ian Tuttle in his article “The 97 Percent Solution” for the National Review (10/08/2015).

While many Republicans may deny climate change, most Democrats accept the science as real. For example, the rejection of climate change is not an idea that is shared by our current president. President Obama has been quoted on numerous occasions as saying, “No challenge poses a greater threat to our children, our planet, and future generations,” according to the White House official record.  (https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-record/climate ) and Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren agree with President Obama and have each promised to continue to fight for the pro-environment policies that the president has put into place over the last 8 years. (MSNBC, The Rachel Maddow Show, 11/09/2016)

How or why is it that climate change, a scientific theory, seems to have become a partisan issue? Joschka Tryba, in his article entitled, “How did climate change become a partisan issue?” is quoted on Quara as saying, “Whenever science is not good for business, business pursues a propaganda campaign denying the source. The cause of climate change is largely due to the fossil fuels industries and other related businesses. These industries bought themselves an alliance with the Republican Party.” In short, the environment is less important than making more profits.

Popular scientist, Neil Degrasse Tyson, told Jen Hayden, contributor to the Daily Kos that, “The evidence will show up when they need more evidence. More storms, most coastlines getting lost. People beginning to lose their wealth. People, if they begin to lose their wealth, they change their mind real fast, I’ve found – particularly in a capitalistic culture.” Tyson also says that when the polar ice caps melt, which right now is only a matter of time, the water level will reach up to the elbow of the Statue of Liberty. Tyson makes it clear that the polar ice caps are disappearing and the temperatures are rising and these are facts that people need to accept and deal with. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/06/03/1304046/-Neil-deGrasse-Tyson-s-alarming-prediction-about-losing-the-polar-ice-caps?detail=facebook)

Tyson has eagerly, frequently and fiercely taken on deniers of climate change and he has done everything he can to show us what the future will look like if we do not make changes soon. Yet still some consider climate change and global warming to be an opinion and not fact. Tyson addresses that simply too, “At some point there is a preponderance enough of evidence that something should cease to become an opinion and should be accepted as scientific fact.”  (Daily Kos)

There is hope that we can make changes now that will halt further damage. Unfortunately, the first step in making a change is admitting there is a problem and some are not yet ready to make that first step.

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