The New York Times published a fascinating article Sunday about how climate changes threatens at least some of the world’s polar bear population because of global warming and the ensuing shrinking of Arctic ice.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 18, 2016
Erica Goode, the author of the article, points out the hard data:
Much of 2016 was warmer than normal, and the freeze-up came late. In November, the extent of Arctic sea ice was lower than ever recorded for that month. Though the average rate of ice growth was faster than normal for the month, over five days in mid-November the ice cover lost more than 19,000 square miles, a decline that the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado called “almost unprecedented” for that time of year.
Polar bears need arctic ice to hunt the seals that keep them alive. Now, according to the article, more and more bears forage on land near villages. So even though people may actually see more bears or are forced to interact with them it means their overall numbers are dwindling, not rising. Thus, the climate-change story remains nuanced, and it makes it almost too easy for adamant climate-change denialists to dismiss the problem, as the article notes.
The overall issue of nuance when it comes to global warming has always allowed politicians, such as Oklahoma’s U.S. Jim Inhofe, the Republican chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, to implement an agenda to deny and resist basic science and the facts. This applies, as well, to president-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, who is the attorney general in Oklahoma.
The article touches on the political morass surrounding climate change, but it doesn’t really note specifically that Oklahoma’s two biggest supporters of the oil and gas industry, which generates the fossil fuels that produce the carbon emissions raising the earth’s overall temperature, stand poised to begin a huge rollback of EPA regulations that will accelerate global warming.
It might not make sense to many people throughout the world that two somewhat minor politicians from a flyover state in the U.S. could or would bring about the destruction of the planet, but that’s an extremely real possibility. Inhofe’s record as a denier has been well documented through the years although he has been kept in check somewhat by the President Barack Obama administration.
But Pruitt’s record of suing the EPA to try to force rollbacks in rules that benefit the fossil fuel industry is less known as is his complete indifference to the state’s earthquake crisis caused by wastewater disposal used in the fracking process. One of Pruitt’s campaign chairs was Harold Hamm, the chief executive officer of Continental Resources, an Oklahoma City-based company widely known for igniting the fracking boom in this country.
As The Washington Post recently noted:
Pruitt, who has written that the debate on climate change is “far from settled,” joined a coalition of state attorneys general in suing over the agency’s Clean Power Plan, the principal Obama-era policy aimed at reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector. He has also sued, with fellow state attorneys general, over the EPA’s recently announced regulations seeking to curtail the emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from the oil and gas sector.
To state the obvious, Pruitt’s selection by Trump, no matter how it plays out, and his other cabinet selections, including former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as Energy Secretary, are a major indicator that the incoming president will put the interests of the oil and gas industry above the welfare of the environment and the general world population. Some climate change scientists say it may already be too late to prevent massive population displacement through rising sea levels and to stop huge droughts, which could threaten the world’s food supply. Once Pruitt and Inhofe get their say, who knows how quickly the resulting and coming chaos of global warming could begin?
The polar bears tell the tragic story, but if leaders of one of the world’s superpowers won’t listen, it doesn’t really matter.