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Editorial: Climate change deniers ignore real devastating dangers

The U.S. Global Change Research Project — a team of 300 top U.S. scientists from many federal agencies, created by a 1990 act of Congress — declares flatly:

“Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced. Global temperature has increased over the past 50 years. This observed increase is due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases. Climate-related changes are already observed. ... These include increases in heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost. ... Sea-level rise and storm surge place many U.S. coastal areas at increasing risk. ...

The federal researchers say carbon dioxide from burning coal and gasoline is the foremost “greenhouse gas” driving the warmup.

Terrible twisters and hurricanes caused by hotter air (which holds more moisture) are killing Americans and costing billions in damages. Floods, droughts, wildfires and other perils add to the toll.

Yet many conservatives and coal industry supporters scoff at the scientific findings. For example, Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., keeps introducing amendments forbidding U.S. agencies from doing anything to address global warming. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passes his absurd proposals (with help from coal-country Democrats like Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va) — but the measures are doomed in the Democrat-controlled Senate, or they face presidential vetoes.

McKinley even tried to prevent the U.S. military from acting, — for example, the Navy couldn’t protect against possible damage to coastal bases.

Last month, President Obama called such climate-deniers a “fringe.” Addressing the League of Conservation Voters, he said some honest Republicans know that weather is worsening, but they must pretend ignorance to please tea party extremists and other right-wingers.

“They say, ‘Hey, I’m not a scientist,’ which really translates into: ‘I accept that manmade climate is real, but if I say so out loud, I will be run out of town by a bunch of fringe elements.’ ”

Obama said conservatives declare that global warming is “a liberal plot” — while U.S. communities “struggle with longer wildfire seasons, more severe drought, heavier rainfall, more frequent flooding.”

This menace is inflicting billion-dollar costs on America. If higher seas and worse superstorms ravage coastal cities, as Sandy did, the pricetag will soar. To protect coal industry profits, West Virginia politicians oppose federal pollution controls — but they never mention the higher cost being paid by the whole nation.

Rep. McKinley wants to order federal agencies to pretend that climate change isn’t happening. That’s like King Canute absurdly commanding ocean tides to cease.


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