The coronavirus pandemic overshadows many other issues, including climate change.
The catastrophic wildfires raging across the west provide a sobering clarity about the price the country and globe will pay because climate change hasn’t been taken seriously enough.
Oregon, California and Washington have seen historic wildfires that burn faster and farther than ever before and already have claimed dozens of lives.
Many recent studies have linked bigger wildfires in the country to global climate change caused by burning coal, oil and gas.
Western states, in particular, have seen more severe droughts and high winds that fuel wildfires.
Governors and residents there see firsthand how the change in climate is having devastating consequences. Worse, they know it will become more common and likely even worse in the years ahead.
California had its hottest August on record including record-setting heat in Death Valley. Thousands of lightning strikes have set off hundreds of fires.
Oregon has seen long-term drought and more wild weather in recent years. Typically about 500,000 acres burn each year in the state, but flames already have consumed more than 1 million acres and are still spreading.
The environmental and human damage caused by climate change isn’t confined to any one part of the country or the world. Here in southern Minnesota the change in weather patterns can’t be ignored. Warmer winters and more frequent fierce storms have become the norm.
Warmer oceans are fertile grounds for more intense hurricanes. Rising sea levels across the globe will displace millions of people, causing economic disaster and political turmoil, increasing the likelihood of more wars.
While climate change is intensifying, America’s response to it has weakened rather than improved. President Donald Trump always has denied human-driven climate change, while championing more oil and coal use, reducing vehicle fuel efficiency goals and pulling the country out of the Paris Climate Accord.
The horrific effects of climate change are and will be unleashed on people of all political leanings. If ever there was an issue that should create bipartisan efforts, it is to make the sacrifices needed to reduce climate change before it passes the tipping point.