With the recent storm patterns that have hammered the United States, it is time for state and federal government to embrace the fact that the climate is changing. A failure to recognize this is costing the nation and North Carolina billions of dollars in property damage and loss of life. Hurricane Florence is more evidence for those not already convinced that climate change is real. And those not already convinced include the majority of the North Carolina legislature.
During the last decade, North Carolina and South Carolina have endured almost one hurricane a year, not including tropical depression storms that have caused flooding, property damage and loss of life. Many maintain the recent patterns of storms in the United States and around the globe are driven by climate change. It can be argued that the historical storms in New Orleans, Houston, Florida, New Jersey and along the eastern seaboard can be credited to global warming. Those who argue climate change is not real are not facing the extraordinary research that has been done in North Carolina, the nation and internationally. The evidence is overwhelming that climate change is real and has implications for our economy and our very lives.
A key question is what is climate change, or global warming? And are we simply going through a period of time with more storms? In reviewing a formal explanation by Wikipedia, “climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns, when that change lasts for an extended period of time (i.e. decades to millions of years). Climate change may refer to a change in average weather conditions, or in the time variation of weather within the context of longer-term average conditions. Physical evidence to observe climate change includes a range of parameters.”
The recent storms are a very small sample size, not enough to build an ironclad case for climate change. But there are plenty of additional, and convincing, components for the argument: sea level change, cloud cover and precipitation changes, changing vegetation patterns, Arctic ice sheet erosion, temperature changes and more. These factors are in turn impacted by growing populations and growing emission levels.
In 2005, North Carolina authorized the Legislative Commission on Global Climate Change to direct the commission to determine if a cap on emissions was warranted, and if so, at what level. The North Carolina Climate Action Plan Advisory Group (CAPG). The 43-person Commission of diverse experts from across the North Carolina expired with the submission of its report in 2008. The 118-page report listed 564 recommended options for further study and potential adoption that are believed to be most important for mitigating North Carolina’s GHG emissions. The associated economic impact projected significant cost savings for the state through 2020.
In the summer of 2012, North Carolina, conservative state Rep. Pat McElraft introduced a bill that stipulated state and local agencies must refer to historical linear predictions of sea level rise rather than current research, and only look at 30-year predictions – basically ignoring the evidence and overlooking the potentially dangerous impacts of weather-related damage to homes and property along coastal Carolina. The bill was passed despite rising sea levels on the state’s coast and the recommendations from the CAPG.
We implore politicians to move away from political party positions and provide the funding to support scientific research that will assist local communities, regions and the states to address this crucial issue, that impacts everyone, regardless of boundaries or political affiliation. Global warming is a real and must be addressed.
In 2015 the Pew Research Center reported, “that a median of 54 percent of all respondents consider climate change a serious problem.’’ Politicians should also consider climate change a reality – not a political agenda item.
Fortunately, 196 countries see the impact of global warming, given that they signed on to the Paris Agreement, to bring nations together to fight against climate change. President Trump pulled the United States out of the accord, for political and shortsighted reasons. Global warming is real and we must take appropriate actions to address it or continue to face the wrath of mother nature.