Earth continues to warm fast; is climate change lost in political turmoil?

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Mercedes-Benz SL-Class stalls in Maryland flash flood

Mercedes-Benz SL-Class stalls in Maryland flash flood

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Mother Nature doesn't pay attention to politics.

As a pair of articles in The Washington Post last week highlighted, climate change proceeds apace regardless of the daily news cycle.

In other words, unless the U.S. and the world ramp up the pace of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions from all sources, the effects of a warming planet will continue past the rise of 2 degrees C scientists argue may avert the worst effects.

DON'T MISS: Most-accurate climate-change models suggest worst effects on global weather

The first article juxtaposed recent data from both NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the continuing warming of Planet Earth.

The headline essentially says it all: "The planet just had its hottest 4 years in recorded history. Trump is dismantling efforts to fight climate change."

From pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Pact to ending the Clean Power Plan under which each state would create a customized plan to cut carbon emissions from its electric-power sector, the Trump administration has systematically attacked virtually every effort to fight climate change.

Global carbon dioxide emissions, 1850-2030 [CO2 Information Analysis Center, World Energy Outlook]

Global carbon dioxide emissions, 1850-2030 [CO2 Information Analysis Center, World Energy Outlook]

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Trump has staffed his administration with climate-science deniers, with Scott Pruitt perhaps most egregious among them.

The man confirmed to head the Environmental Protection Agency, charged with protecting the country's air, water, and land, sued the EPA more than a dozen times as attorney general of Oklahoma to prevent it from enforcing emission limits on the state's politically powerful fossil-fuel lobby.

He has systematically removed scientists from the agency's science panels, met with large corporations while refusing any contact with environmental groups, and targeted the vehicle carbon-emission limits adopted by the agency before Trump took office.

Two days after the warming data was released, the second Washington Post article was not a news report but an editorial bylined by the paper's Editorial Board. It opens:

One byproduct of the day-to-day chaos of the Trump presidency is that the nation’s biggest, long-term challenges are often forgotten.

While Washington spent this week agonizing over the prospect of a totally unnecessary government shutdown, what should have been far bigger news went nearly unremarked.

It goes on to underscore the news released two days earlier by NASA and NOAA about the planet's four hottest years on record.

EPA website redirect page replaces scientific information on climate change, April 30, 2017

EPA website redirect page replaces scientific information on climate change, April 30, 2017

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The point, appropriately, is that the deluge of news from Washington, D.C.—much of it bizarre and well outside the norms of civil democratic government—threatens to swamp focus on critical, life-changing events that will affect not only us, but our children, grandchildren, and their descendants.

Encouragingly, the rest of world is collectively undertaking aggressive measures to cut carbon emissions from transportation, electric-power generation, and industrial production.

That includes China, now the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, which is well along the path to having the largest share of the world's photovoltaic solar cells, lithium-ion battery cells, and plug-in electric vehicles.

CHECK OUT: Is 'Drawdown' the climate-change action map the world needs?

The Trump administration, meanwhile, has made a great deal of noise about "saving coal," a dirty and dangerous industry that in the U.S. employs fewer people than does the fast-food chain Arby's.

In personal transportation, if you can't walk or ride a bicycle to get to your destination—as most suburban North Americans cannot—then driving a plug-in electric car is the best single way to cut the carbon emissions of personal transport short of not making the trip in the first place.

Consider this today's public-service announcement.

Green Car Reports respectfully reminds its readers that the scientific validity of climate change is not a topic for debate in our comments. We ask that any comments by climate-change denialists be flagged for moderation. We also ask that political discussions be restricted to the topic of the article they follow. Thank you in advance for helping us keep our comments on topic, civil, respectful, family-friendly, and fact-based.

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