As typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded, was hitting the Philippines, Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, was at a town hall meeting in Sonora rejecting the international scientific consensus on climate change.
Climate scientists are saying that their decade-old prediction of an increase in the intensity and destructiveness of hurricanes and typhoons has become a reality. A report this year looked at more than 12,000 peer-reviewed studies on climate change from 1991 to 2012 and found a 97 percent consensus among scientists that climate change is real and it is man-made.
At the town hall meeting, Emily Dondero, who works as an energy efficiency project manager for the Sierra Business Council, asked McClintock, “How would you address climate change conditions for our region?”
McClintock started his answer saying, “The notion that somehow your SUV is responsible for climate changes that date back 4 billion years, and global warming that dates back 50,000 years, that is silly.”
A recent study concluded that the current warming period is raising global surface temperatures faster than at any time in the past 65 million years. In addition, the report says that if we continue on this path, the rate of change will be a minimum of 50 times greater than at any time over that period.
McClintock also mentioned the recent rallying cry among climate-science skeptics: “There has been a pause in global warming for the past 15 to 17 years now; making a mockery of all the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) projections from 20 years ago.”
In a study just released, scientists are able to explain the so-called “pause.” The study reported that the insufficient number of Arctic weather stations might have created a bias toward cooler global surface temperatures. So instead of relying on incomplete data from Arctic weather stations, they collected arctic temperature data gathered over the past 15 years from satellites. Since the arctic has seen the most dramatic temperature increases, the satellite data more than filled the gap and confirmed an uninterrupted warming period. Their claim was bolstered by the jaw-dropping record low in the extent of Arctic sea ice in 2012.
Scientists say climate change played a key role in the Rim fire, the largest wildfire ever recorded in the northern Sierra. Scientists have been warning us for years about the potential for more intense, more catastrophic and more frequent large wildfires.
One of the issues McClintock likes to discuss at town hall meetings is the growing federal debt we are leaving future generations. He should be equally concerned about the climate crisis we are leaving future generations. In 2010, seven of the 10 counties McClintock represents rejected Proposition 23, which, if passed, would have suspended AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act. In Tuolumne County, where the Rim fire burned, the difference (in favor) was only eight votes. Statewide, it was soundly rejected by 23 percent.
In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Land Grant, which protects Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Trees Grove “for all time.” Next year is the 150th anniversary of that document.
The Sierra Nevada needs to be represented by people willing to set aside politics, embrace science and give a high priority to the preservation of the region’s natural wonders and its beautiful forests while there’s still time.
Boyd, of Arnold, is a writer, educator and property manager.