Friday, July 25, 2008

Global Boiling: Rush Versus Reality

From the Think Progress Blog

Last week, conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh assailed the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s “Global Boiling” Progress Report, which explained that the extreme weather events causing death and destruction across the United States “are consistent with the changes scientists predicted would come with global warming.” He called it a “piece of propaganda” by “wackos” but refused to read any of it — “You can imagine what it says.” He continued:

You know, it is a crying shame to have to sit out here and just do nothing but refute a bunch of lies that are repeatedly told by leftist activist groups and then amplified and promulgated by willing accomplices in the Drive-By Media.

The “leftist activist groups” Rush is attacking now includes not only us but also the Bush administration, whose multiagency Climate Change Science Program has released two reports this week on the damage climate change is doing to the United States.

The first, released Thursday, said:

Many extremes and their associated impacts are now changing. For example, in recent decades most of North America has been experiencing more unusually hot days and nights, fewer unusually cold days and nights, and fewer frost days. Heavy downpours have become more frequent and intense. Droughts are becoming more severe in some regions, though there are no clear trends for North America as a whole. The power and frequency of Atlantic hurricanes have increased substantially in recent decades, though North American mainland land-falling hurricanes do not appear to have increased over the past century. Outside the tropics, storm tracks are shifting northward and the strongest storms are becoming even stronger.

Friday’s report on the effect of global warming on our continent’s ecosystems finds that “Climate change has very likely increased the size and number of forest fires, insect outbreaks, and tree mortality in the interior West, the Southwest, and Alaska, and will continue to do so.”

Its warning for the future?

The resilience of many ecosystems is likely to be exceeded this century by an unprecedented combination of climate change, associated disturbances (e.g., flooding, drought, wildfire, insects, ocean acidification), and other global change drivers (e.g., land-use change, pollution).

To conclude: the U.S. Climate Change Science Program — comprised of the Agency for International Development, Department of Agriculture, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, National Institutes of Health, Department of State, Department of Transportation, US Geological Survey, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics & Space Administration, National Science Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution — has found that global warming has likely or very likely worsened:

  • Intense rainfall
  • Heat waves
  • Winter storms
  • Hurricanes
  • Wildfires
  • Insect outbreaks
  • Coral bleaching

The future, in addition to the above, will see worse:

  • Droughts
  • Ocean acidification
  • Storm surges
  • Wildlife disruption
  • Extreme coastal erosion

It’s important to note that none of these are new findings — these are simply summaries of thousands of works of scientific research from the past decades. And even with the release of these long-delayed reports, the Bush administration continues to violate its lawful mandate to take action on global warming, as the president’s Nixonian assertion of executive privilege on Friday makes clear.

So, despite Rush’s attacks, these “wackos” at the Center for American Progress Action Fund will continue to report the truth and hold his friends accountable.

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