"Climate change" refers to a rise in the surface temperature of the Earth, primarily caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Human activities, such as agriculture, deforestation and burning fossil fuels, contribute to the proliferation of these gases. If we don't change our activity to reduce carbon emissions, there could be catastrophic consequences: rising sea levels, long droughts and unpredictable severe weather events, like tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires. (And worst of all, it might ruin beer for everyone!)
The overwhelming majority of scientists believe climate change is real and that humans are causing it. But unfortunately, a loud minority of skeptics has polluted the conversation, casting doubt on the abundance of evidence. And yes, that group includes President Donald Trump. In 2012, he tweeted, "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive." (It wasn't.) Then, in 2014, he tweeted, "It's late in July and it is really cold outside in New York. Where the hell is GLOBAL WARMING??? We need some fast! It's now CLIMATE CHANGE." (This childish argument has been disproven many times.)
Last Friday, the Trump administration released the Fourth National Climate Assessment, a report conducted by 13 federal agencies and 300 leading climate scientists. The report contains dire warnings about the devastating impact of man-made climate change on both the planet and the economy. It states global warming could cause a 10 percent decline in gross domestic product and the "potential for losses in some sectors could reach hundreds of billions of dollars per year by the end of this century." Farm states, where many people voted for Trump, would be hit particularly hard. (Maybe this is why the Trump administration buried the report by releasing it on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, when Americans aren't checking the news.)
The Assessment states, "Observations collected around the world provide significant, clear, and compelling evidence that global average temperature is much higher, and is rising more rapidly, than anything modern civilization has experienced, with widespread and growing impacts." It notes that "annual average temperatures have increased by 1.8°F across the contiguous United States since the beginning of the 20th century" and that "annual median sea level along the U.S. coast... has increased by about 9 inches since the early 20th century as oceans have warmed and land ice has melted." The fourth hottest years on record were 2016, 2015, 2017 and 2014.
The report concludes, "While mitigation and adaptation efforts have expanded substantially in the last four years, they do not yet approach the scale considered necessary to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades." That's a pretty clear warning that we should take seriously, right? Not according to President Trump.
When asked about this exhaustively researched report from the nation's top scientists in his own administration, Trump said, "I’ve seen it. I’ve read some of it. It’s fine. I don’t believe it." He went to blather that it doesn't matter if the United States takes measures to reduce carbon emissions, because "China and Japan and all of Asia and all of these other countries" would have to do so too. And yes, this is the same Donald Trump who pulled out of the Paris climate change agreement. The United States is the only country in the world to reject the global pact.
President Trump then claimed, without evidence, "Right now, we’re at the cleanest we’ve ever been. And that’s very important to me. But if we’re clean, but every other place on Earth is dirty, that’s not so good. So I want clean air, I want clean water, very important." It sure doesn't seem like you think it's important, Donald. Even South Park appeared to admit it was wrong about this issue! Sticking your head in the hand won't save you from ManBearPig, or from climate change.