Thursday, July 31, 2014
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Marco Rubio's notion of climate change: Nope

Sen. Marco Rubio wants you to know that he doesn't agree with the "notion" of climate change. Thing is, the strong science behind it just got stronger.

Marco Rubio's notion of climate change: Nope

Sen. Marco Rubio wants you to know that he doesn’t agree with the “notion” of climate change. Speaking to ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, in a report that aired Sunday, the Florida Republican said, “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it.”

That’s red meat for whatever you want to call the climate change-denying wing of the Republican Party. Come up with your own description. Or maybe instead we should come up with a phrase that describes being in the pocket of the Koch brothers and their ilk? Maybe a Koch puppet? It turns out that the Koch brothers (along with others) are big funders of climate change denial. And wouldn’t you know it, Marco Rubio received the most Koch campaign cash in the 2010 Senate election cycle.

In that same ABC News interview, Rubio also wanted us to know that he’s ready to be president. Of the United States. Seriously.

Unlike Rubio’s 2016 presidential ambitions, however, climate change is really happening. Two papers published Monday, in the journals Science and Geophysical Research Letters, call our attention – Are you listening, Marco? Because this will impact the state you represent – to the impending collapse of a section of the West Antarctic ice sheet, likely caused by a combination of human-generated climate change, natural variations in the climate, and possibly the ozone hole over the Antarctic. The disintegration of the ice sheets will occur over centuries and raise sea levels by at least 10 feet. Whatever its cause, climate change will likely accelerate the pace.

Just last week, the White House released the third U.S. National Climate Estimate, which offers the sobering assessment that “evidence of human-induced climate change continues to strengthen and that impacts are increasing across the country.” The National Climate Estimate analyzes the current and coming climate impact in seven areas—human health, water, energy, transportation, agriculture, forests, and ecosystems. And as scientists have been warning for years, the outlook is pretty grim and is already affecting us. In the coming decades, seasonal droughts will intensify and flooding will increase. Climate disruptions “will be increasingly negative on crops and livestock.” And we will see an increase in illnesses “transmitted by food, water, and disease-carriers such as mosquitos and ticks.”

We can continue to pretend that there is a debate to be had on this topic by indulging politicians and others who seek to deny what is now upon us. And we can continue to insist, as Marco Rubio did on Sunday, that any attempt to pass laws to minimize the impact of climate change will “destroy our economy.” Or, we can go with the facts. As almost all scientists agree, climate change is happening, humans are driving that change, and we need to act fast. Our economy won’t be destroyed by those seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But our economy will be devastated by rising sea levels, disruptions to our agriculture system, and changing health patterns. All caused by the changing climate and made worse by our collective inaction.


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Michael Yudell, PhD, MPH Associate Professor, Drexel University School of Public Health
About this blog

What is public health — and why does it matter?

Through prevention, education, and intervention, public health practitioners - epidemiologists, health policy experts, municipal workers, environmental health scientists - work to keep us healthy.

It’s not always easy. Michael Yudell, Jonathan Purtle, and other contributors tell you why.

Michael Yudell, PhD, MPH Associate Professor, Drexel University School of Public Health
Jonathan Purtle, DrPH, MPH Research Director, Drexel Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice
Janet Golden, PhD Professor of history, Rutgers University-Camden
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