Mercury rising

Historic warming underscores importance of electing climate change leader

You may have heard that 2015 was the hottest year in recorded history, but what you may not have heard is that, just last week, the average temperature around the Northern Hemisphere rose to higher than 2 degrees above the “normal” mark for the first time in recorded history and probably the history of humankind.

As environmental activist Bill McKibben noted in a subsequent essay, governments have agreed that rising above 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial temperatures (aka “normal”) would be calamitous. The internationally agreed upon do-not-break threshold, which world leaders ostensibly are working to avoid, came much sooner than scientists expected—even though the breach was short-lived.

That disastrously momentous occasion underscores the importance of mitigating the amount of greenhouse gases that are warming our world and will trigger further catastrophic environmental consequences for every living species. Think Arctic ice melts, sea-level rises and subsequent flooding, along with other extreme weather events, drought and famine, among other things.

And now consider this: Not a single one of the Republican presidential candidates wants to do anything substantive to curb global warming. In fact, the two leading GOP candidates—Donald Trump and Ted Cruz—don’t believe there’s such a thing as man-made climate change. Trump has actually said he believes climate change in general is a hoax.

Mind you, they’ve taken these positions despite findings by national security experts, including the Department of Defense, which has concluded that climate change is “a present security threat, not strictly a long-term threat.”

In short, the richest nation on Earth needs the kind of representation that will lead on this issue—the most important not only of our lifetimes, but for generations to come. Remember that this election season.