Most scientists agree that fossil fuel fumes form a "greenhouse" layer in the sky, trapping heat that warms the Earth's surface, causing ever-worse hurricanes, tornados, floods, droughts, wildfires, glacier melt, sea rise and other costly calamities.
President Obama tackled this global warming crisis Tuesday by ordering various reforms, including tighter controls on pollution from coal-burning power plants. Immediately, West Virginia coal interests cried foul. Rep. Shelley Capito, R-W.Va., accused the president of "tyrannical efforts to bankrupt the coal industry."
Evidently it's another blow to the Central Appalachian coalfield, which already is fading as rich seams are depleted and cheap Marcellus gas and cheap Western coal grab markets.
Meanwhile, insight into the warming issue can be found in "Goodbye Miami," an ugly analysis in Rolling Stone magazine. It says horrendous damage of the sort caused by Hurricane Sandy's ocean surge eventually will destroy much of America's eastern shore.
The report says Miami is "doomed to drown" because ice melt is raising ocean levels, making coastal cities sitting ducks vulnerable to major storms. Despite expensive seawalls and other costly protections, Miami will become a ruin uninhabitable by its 5.5 million residents, a sunken wreck suffering $400 billion losses, it predicts.
"Since the 1920s, the global average sea level has risen about nine inches, mostly from thermal expansion of ocean water," the article says. "But thanks to our 200-year-long fossil fuel binge, the great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are starting to melt rapidly now, causing the rate of sea-level rise to grow exponentially. The latest research, including an assessment by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, suggests that sea level could rise more than six feet by the end of the century."
Some experts predict the ocean rise will be as much as 16 feet -- but even six feet will destroy most of south Florida, along with great portions of America's shore.
As for Obama's crackdown on carbon-spewing power plants, the magazine implies that it's too late to halt damage from fossil fuel burning.
"Even if we cut carbon pollution overnight, it won't save us," the report says. "Ohio State glaciologist Jason Box has said he believes we already have 70 feet of sea-level rise baked into the system."
Florida Republicans who refuse to acknowledge looming danger behave in a way that "is almost suicidal -- when it isn't downright comical," Rolling Stone says. It describes a meeting in which a political leader quoted Genesis to prove that a sea rise won't happen. "God destroyed the Earth with water the first time, and he promised he wouldn't do it again," he said.
The magazine lists numerous other sea-level cities -- Washington, New York, Boston, New Orleans, San Francisco, Galveston, Norfolk, Tampa, etc. -- that face peril in coming years. It sets Miami's possible storm destruction in 2030, and says many aging people shrug at this prospect, because they won't live 17 more years.
Will America's seaboard drown, while the rest of the nation suffers worse wildfires, floods, droughts, tornados, hurricanes and other weather tragedies?
The time to wonder has passed. Obama has proposed a start at controlling the human factors that exacerbate climate change. True leaders will support solutions, rather than pretend there is no problem.