It’s simple science: weather and climate are not the same thing. But the distinction is something President Donald Trump and the Republican Party have had a hard time figuring out.
In November 2018, the president tweeted, “Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS – Whatever happened to Global Warming?”
In January 2019, he tweeted, “In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded … What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!” And yes, he did misspell “warming.”
Weather is short-term changes in the atmosphere. Climate is the average weather for a place over time. Global warming is real.
According to NASA, the past five years have been the hottest in recorded history, with 2016 being the warmest and last year coming in fourth. Earth’s average surface temperature has risen 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit since the turn of the 20th century, not to mention that most of this change has happened over the past 35 years. Oceans have absorbed much of the heat, warming more than 0.4 degrees since 1969. Greenland and Antarctica have lost a combined 413 billion tons of ice since 1993.
There are very drastic and quick changes happening to the Earth’s climate. Our use of greenhouse gases and nonrenewable energies are the primary reasons for these changes.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that if we do not act in the next 12 years, there will be irreversible costs to climate change. According to the Fourth National Climate Assessment, climate change will cost the economy billions, deteriorate our infrastructure, alter ecosystems, spread disease, decrease agricultural productivity, raise ocean levels, decrease the amount of clean water and cause more frequent and extreme weather.
We’re already beginning to feel the effects of climate change. Glaciers the size of Manhattan have fallen off Antarctica. Massive hurricanes, wildfires and droughts have become much more common. A small rodent, the Bramble Cay melomys, was recently recognized as the first mammal to go extinct because of climate change.
The good news is that there are policies we can implement right now that will help curb global warming. Investing in renewable energies, electric cars and high-speed rail systems, transitioning to smart and clean energy, increasing fuel economy standards for automobiles, implementing efficiency standards, creating a carbon tax, eliminating subsidies for producing fossil fuels and reversing the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision would all steer our country in the right direction.
The Democratic Party can’t seem to agree on how to address climate change. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey are pushing for a Green New Deal, which looks to address climate change and economic inequality. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, however, has said it’s impossible to stop a problem this big in such a short amount of time, and that there are more reasonable solutions.
Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing our generation, and the United States has contributed more than any other country. It’s one thing to debate how to solve the problem — in fact, I highly encourage these debates. But the Republican Party continues to deny basic scientific facts and offer no solution. We cannot let this continue. We are the generation that has to fix this. Our fate is in our own hands.