With the current confusion on both sides of the Atlantic, around the legalities and process for Brexit, and the nightmare 1984 scenario of Donald Trump’s ‘alternative-fact’, climate-change denier administration, one irrefutable, scientifically-proven fact needs to be kept in mind – 2016 was the hottest year since modern record-keeping began 136 years ago.
How do we know this?
Because NASA scientists, including Dr Gavin Schmidt, Director of their Institute for Space Studies, says so. NASA produces monthly reports using publicly available data from 6,300 meteorological stations around the world, measurements taken from ships and buoys at sea, and Antarctic research stations.
Because the World Meteorological Organisation says so. Their data shows global temperatures running at 1.2°C above pre-industrial levels, dangerously close to the 1.5°C target agreed at the Paris climate change summit in December 2015.
Because US and UK academics and research bodies say so. Scientists such as Dr Michael E Mann from Pennsylvania State University and Professor Noah S Diffenbaugh from Stanford University, along with the UK’s Met Office Hadley Centre, the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Because Japanese monks say so. Yes, Japanese monks. Since 1443, priests living on the edge of Lake Suwa have been recording the date a ridge of ice called the omiwatari appears. Similarly, in 1693 in Finland, a merchant called Olof Ahlbom began recording the date and time of the spring ice break-up on the Torne River on the country’s border with Sweden. Contemporary analysis of these records by John Magnuson from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Sapna Sharma of Toronto’s York University proves that since the Industrial Revolution changes in the timing of freeze and thaw have accelerated.
UK Climate Change Minister Nick Hurd has described Trump’s election as ‘a very big challenge’ to the world’s efforts to address the problem. Now 530 major US firms, including Unilever, Kellogg’s and Hewlett Packard have urged the new president to put a stop to his climate change denial which has seen pages removed from the official White House website and the e-mails and Twitter feeds of Environment Agency personnel gagged.
With Teresa May due to be the first foreign leader to meet with President Trump this week, it is more than disappointing that the topics due for discussion do not include climate change.
So, what can any one individual do in the face of this ostrich-like head-in-the-sand attitude? Keep putting the pressure on your elected local and national government representatives, keep questioning the climate change deniers – and keep making your own clean energy choices whenever and wherever you can.