US Government 2014 Climate Report: Yep, we’re screwed

The 2014 State of the Climate Report, compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization (NOAA) and the American Meteorological Society (AMS) came out last week.

The report considered research from over 400 scientists in 58 countries, gauging the status of climate research from around the world to aggregate a sense of where our climate is and where it’s going.

 

The emerging consensus is clear: we’re screwed.

2014 was the Earth’s warmest year on record, and continued warming has led to shrinking glaciers, receding permafrost, rising ocean levels and more severe storms. As NOAA climate monitoring chief Derek Arndt told VICE News:

It was the warmest year on record for the globe and the oceans; it was the year with the highest sea level we’ve seen on average around the globe. Those are easy to latch on to statistics, but more importantly they reconfirm — and they put an exclamation point on — the trends that we’ve seen for years and decades. Different pieces of the climate system will surge and fall back from year to year, but across the board we’re living in a world that’s changing and in most cases changing really rapidly.

What’s more, oceanic warming has momentum, having reached a point where even if we took serious action to curb our greenhouse gas emissions, it would continue past damaging levels. As Greg Johnson, an oceanographer at NOAA, said in a statement:

Even if we were to freeze greenhouse gases at current levels, the sea would actually continue to warm for centuries and millennia, and as they continue to warm and expand the sea levels will continue to rise.

While the report should be taken as a blaring alarm siren for us to take drastic measures to cut back on our carbon consumption in order to prevent even more damage than we’ve already caused, that kind of immediate and consequential action is all but off the table. Conservatives had already started to latch onto the idea that even if climate change were real, there isn’t anything we can do about it; this report allows them to make that claim with evidence fromnot in spite of, the scientific community.

The climate debate in Washington, screenshot via YouTube

The climate debate in Washington, screenshot via YouTube

Another roadblock standing in the way of action on climate is the fact that, despite the global average temperature increasing, with the average temperature in geographic regions ranging from Europe to Africa to Australia hitting record highs, America’s East coast did not see significant increases in temperature. As New York and Washington wield a disproportionate amount of influence on policymaking in America and, by extension, the rest of the world, cooler temperatures there mean inaction elsewhere.

Every time James Inhofe throws a snowball on the Senate floor, a future beachfront property in Arkansas gets built.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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