While Republican presidential candidates and members of Congress voiced their support for defunding Planned Parenthood, nearly 2,700 structures were destroyed by two unpredictable California wildfires, California's four year drought reached epic proportions, and the summer of 2015 became the warmest summer ever recorded on planet Earth.
Recently, California Governor Jerry Brown called out GOP presidential candidates, saying their failure to address climate change is a "dereliction of duty."
In the Gold Country counties of Calaveras and Amador, the Butte fire began its destructive path on September 9th and grew into a massive 70,000 acre wildfire. In the first 48 hours, it raced across 65,000 acres. The current total of structures destroyed in the Butte fire is 901.
In the Northern California counties of Lake, Napa, and Sonoma, the Valley fire which began on September 12th exploded across 70,000 acres in just four days. On its first night, it grew from 400 acres to 40,000 acres in just 12 hours. The current total of structures destroyed in the Valley fire is 1,783.
According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Management, these two active wildfires, separated by about 150 miles and began within three days of each other, are among the seven most destructive fires in California history. The Valley fire is number three and the Butte fire is number seven.
In addition to higher daytime temperatures, one leading university professor researching the effect of climate change on forest fires explains that the increased nighttime activity of wildfires are caused by lower humidity and higher nighttime temperatures and climate change is partly to blame. Some are calling this year's wildfire season "the new normal."
The ongoing 2015 wildfire season has already burned over 8 million acres in the United States, an area the size of Maryland. This is the seventh time the total acreage has exceeded 8 million acres; everyone of those years has occurred since 2004.
NOAA is reporting that this past summer was the warmest ever (worldwide) in the 135 year history of meteorological statistics. As predicted, 2015 is on track to be the hottest year ever recorded.
A study released this year by NASA predicted that climate change will increase the risk of megadroughts in the United States. These megadroughts will last 2-3 times longer than previous droughts which historically would last from a few years to a decade.
Last month, climate scientists released a comprehensive study which concluded that global warming has intensified the current drought in California by 15-20 percent.
Despite the rapid onset of climate change impacts in California, GOP leaders are doubling down on climate change denial. A recent article reported that top Republican leaders are working on a game plan to thwart President Barack Obama's intention to sign an agreement at the COP 21 climate talks this December in Paris.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is reaching out to foreign leaders in an effort to slow down the momentum by breaking out the chalkboard and arguing that the GOP is preparing a goal line stand.
Due to bold new pledges by the Chinese, the GOP has pivoted away from demands that China should also ratchet down emissions before we sign an international agreement. Recently China lowered its target date for their emissions to peak to 2020 from 2030 and pledged to reach that target by ramping up production of carbon-free electrical energy.
One top Republican leader is claiming that an international climate agreement will be a job-killer. However, under the leadership of Governor Jerry Brown, California is paving the way for our nation to successfully transition to a clean energy economy while maintaining a robust economy.
Ultimately, the Republican Party is unlikely to win the White House if front runners continue to deny climate change. A poll released this year revealed that 77 percent of Americans, including 48 percent of Republicans and 78 percent of independents believe Congress needs to take bold action.
This week Pope Francis will be making an historic speech to a joint session of Congress and he's expected to make a moral plea to Congress to support an international climate agreement. The tide is turning and it's time for Republicans to show they are pro-life on one of the most important issues of the 21st Century.