A climate crisis wake-up call

Updated
 
A climate crisis wake-up call
A climate crisis wake-up call

I can appreciate why it’s best not to sound alarmist while reporting on global warming. I can also say there’s a climate crisis and it’s genuinely insane to ignore the increasingly terrifying evidence.

New research suggests average global temperatures were higher in the past decade than over most of the previous 11,300 years, a finding that offers a long-term context for assessing modern-day climate change.

The study, published Thursday in the journal Science, aims to give a global overview of Earth’s temperatures over the past 11,300 years – a relatively balmy period known as the Holocene that began after the last major ice age ended and encompasses all of recorded human civilization.

Consider this chart from the researchers’ report:

As NBC News’ science team explained, similar climate studies have reached similar conclusions, but reports have generally focused on temperature trends over the last two millennia. This new report goes back to the last ice age, showing the trend over 11,000 years.

I suppose the right’s response will be varied. Some will say there’s a communist conspiracy to manipulate the data by those determined to destroy the free-enterprise system. Others might try to suggest there’s a remarkable coincidence, and that the sharp, unprecedented spike occurred naturally.

And then there will be a third group of conservatives who’ll concede that global warming is real and the science is credible, but to address the crisis might hurt our short-term economy, and therefore, it’s better left ignored, consequences for humanity be damned.

Pushing back in the other direction will be President Obama’s newest administration nominees: Gina McCarthy, an expert on federal air quality law who’s been nominated to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, and physicist Ernest Moniz, who’s been tapped to lead the Department of Energy. If both can overcome Republican opposition in the Senate, they’ll have major responsibilities in shaping a climate policy, including regulatory powers that can combat the crisis without congressional input.

Brad Plumer made the case this week that McCarthy may Obama’s “most significant” second-term nominee, and Rebecca Leber had a good item detailing Moniz’s background.

Global Warming

A climate crisis wake-up call

Updated