It would be encouraging if our elected leaders took fact-based positions rather than making invalid assertions defending the status quo. Such practices are especially troubling when, by blocking needed reforms, enormous hardships are imposed on taxpayers.

In your message of Feb. 6, you made several statements that profoundly misrepresent realities about climate-change in rationalizing your indefensible position.

First, you assert that there’s been a “gradual” warming of the earth over the last half-century. Temperature data for the past 150 years reveals that the rate of our planet’s rising temperature has become unprecedentedly rapid.

While sluggish cyclical changes in global temperature over past centuries and eons have been attributed to natural causes, no such explanations account for the alarmingly fast rate of record-breaking temperatures in recent decades.

Consider the following:

  • Eighteen of the 20 hottest years on record have occurred in the past 20 years, and 2016 was the hottest year ever. [Climate Change Indicators: U.S. and Global Temperature, EPA]
  • According to the National Hurricane Center, the current-dollar cost of hurricane damage in the U.S. – so far in the 21st century – is four times greater than the yearly costs in the previous century. These damages were estimated to be some $300 billion in 2017 alone.
  • Wildfire destruction of U.S. forests has dangerously escalated over the past two decades. In fifteen of the past seventeen years, more forests were destroyed by fire than the 30-year average. [National Interagency Fire Center]

Also misleading is your assertion that there is “uncertainty in the science behind climate change.” To the contrary, the science is quite conclusive about human activities being the primary cause of escalating temperatures and rising sea levels. Numerous authoritative reports conclude that greenhouse-gas emissions are overheating the Earth, and the leaders of every other major nation agree.

By suggesting that the U.S. should stop purchasing “energy” (presumably meaning oil and natural gas) from unfriendly countries, you seem to be unaware that the U.S. is glutted with oil and gas and is now exporting more of these fossil-fuels than ever.

Moreover, your assertion that “making a rush to judgment” would harm the U.S. economy contradicts well-established facts. Clean-energy power-generation (solar and wind) now supports far more jobs than fossil-fuel power, and the costs of carbon-free energy is plummeting, according to the 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

I strongly implore you to serve the public interest by using accurate information.

Editor's Note: This letter was first published at Savannah Now (Savannah Morning News). Image: this image is via NASA (fair use).
David Kyler

David Kyler

Executive Director at Center for a Sustainable Coast.