What Happened and What It Means

The Thomas Fire, viewed from Via Real, just east of Lambert Road and the Bella Vista Polo Club, in Summerland, CA on December 11, 2017.The Thomas Fire, viewed from Via Real, just east of Lambert Road and the Bella Vista Polo Club, in Summerland, California, on December 11, 2017. (Photo: Doc Searls)

How many more billions of dollars in damages will it take? How many more lives? It’s obvious; all the climate extremes we have been experiencing lately are indeed caused by climate change. Our climate is already far too dangerous. Scientists have been warning us for 30 years, but still they can’t say for sure.

This is because scientists tell us things in terms of certainty, and this is where we get the oft-heard statement, “We can’t tell if this event was caused by climate change or not.” Almost nothing is certain, especially rapidly changing climate extremes, because it takes time to develop certainty about the weather.

Scientists speak in terms of certainty — probabilistic, scientific certainty. A little warming doesn’t result in a little more extreme weather; it results in a lot more. Who is going to protect us from climate change?

Donald Trump and his climate-science-denying administration certainly will not. They are repealing the Clean Power Plan, which are the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) landmark pollution rules designed to limit carbon dioxide emissions from large sources such as power plants. They reversed the Obama administration’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. They shut down the EPA’s climate change website in April, and when it returned in July, it was half-missing. Trump also cancelled the Climate Action Plan, dropped climate change from the list of national security threats and revoked Federal Emergency Management Agency flood risk standards accounting for sea level rise with federal infrastructure projects. 

The administration has abandoned the most important climate treaty in the world, the Paris Agreement, but they still wanted to sit at the table and develop the rules at the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change recently held…

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