2 1/2 Minutes to Midnight
Just two days before climate-change denier Donald Trump was sworn in as President, the World Meteorological Organization announced that 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded on planet Earth. The milestone shattered the previous high, set in 2015, which had supplanted 2014’s record-breaking temperature. It doesn’t take a climate scientist to notice a disturbing pattern: 16 of the 17 hottest years ever measured have occurred since 2000.
“It’s really the trend,” said Deke Arndt, chief of global climate monitoring for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “The fact that we’re punching at the ceiling every year now…is the real indicator that we’re undergoing big changes.” How big? As The New York Times reported, “Temperatures are heading toward levels that many experts believe will pose a profound threat to both the natural world and to human civilization.”
Trump’s cabinet is filled with climate-science deniers and fossil-fuel champions. During confirmation hearings many were questioned by Democratic senators on whether they grasped the menace of rising global temperatures and sea levels thanks to the burning of fossil fuels. Faced with inarguable evidence and public scrutiny, they all offered—in seemingly coordinated fashion—a new hedge against reality.
“Science tells us that the climate is changing and that human activity in some manner impacts that change,” weaseled Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency. As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA 14 times, often to block measures aimed at reducing man-made greenhouse gas emissions. “The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact,” Pruitt added, is “subject to continuing debate.”