We are seeing the conversation on climate change shift, as the media has started asking candidates where they stand on this critical issue. The politicians who continue to ignore basic science and deny that climate change is occurring and human activity is a driving force behind it, are beginning to pay a political price. Instead of holding these extreme anti-science positions, it's time for our nation's leaders to wake-up and tackle the challenge of our generation -- the climate crisis.
(The chart was taken from a National Journal Article by Lucia Graves)
The science on climate change has already been settled. Earlier this year, the National Climate Assessment and the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report were released, each confirming that climate disruption is not a distant threat but is already here. In fact, it was a sobering reminder that every region is being affected in one way or another, through climate-fueled extreme weather from stronger storms and increased flooding to more intense wildfires, heat waves and droughts. Climate change is also putting our air, water and health at risk as well as jeopardizing our transportation systems, our economy and our agricultural supply.
Climate change deniers like Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), who think they know better than the scientific experts, are spouting off talking points that put the interests of Big Oil and corporate polluters ahead of their constituents. Rubio's home state is at risk to sea level rise, extreme heat, more devastating hurricanes and a shortage of drinking water, according to the National Climate Assessment. Yet, even with all these facts, Rubio still went on ABC's "This Week," to declare, "I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying." After his comments, he tried to defend his previous statement by saying "I think all science deserves skepticism...I've never denied that there is climate change. The question is: Is man-made activity causing the changes in the climate?"
NASA and 97 percent of scientists all agree that human activity is the driving force behind climate disruption. In fact, John Oliver had a humorous segment demonstrating just how senseless this so-called debate really is.
Instead of debating well-established facts, we should be creating commonsense strategies to deal with climate change. President Obama understands this, which is why he has made it a top priority to combat this crisis with his Climate Action Plan that he announced last June.
The president is using his authority to reduce our carbon emissions and prepare for the worsening impacts of climate disruption. In the administration's boldest step yet, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing the first-ever federal limits on the amount of carbon pollution that power plants can spew into our atmosphere. Power plants are our nation's top polluter, and these historic standards would go a long way towards combating climate change. The President has also recently taken action to boost clean energy and energy efficiency, and created a website to make key government data widely available to the public -- making us better prepared for the changing climate.
The proposed limits on carbon emissions have widespread public support, according to a swing state poll conducted by the League of Conservation Voters in 2013. In fact, three out of four voters favored the EPA's standards to regulate carbon pollution from power plants, and the voters overwhelmingly trust the EPA over Congress to decide on these safeguards. Also, the poll found that 48 percent of voters would be less likely to support a candidate who opposes these commonsense standards.
The science is telling us that we must act now, because we can no longer afford to punt this crisis down the road. President Obama is taking the lead; now it's time for the climate change deniers to stop playing politics and join this historic effort to protect our planet's future.