Smarter than a 5th-Grader?

HurricaneThe Friday, October 19, Washington Post ran an article by Juliet Eilperin in which she reported that the administration's Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, John H. Marburger III, said that the target of preventing Earth from warming more than two degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, "is going to be a very difficult
one to achieve and is not actually linked to regional events that affect people's lives."

I agree with the first part: it will be difficult to achieve. However, the second part of that statement is undeniably false and, in fact, regional events are already affecting people's lives and are only going to get more severe. The 2003 European heat waves resulted in more than 20,000 excess lives lost and has been linked by scientists to global warming. If that is not a 'regional event that affects people's lives,' I don't know what is. Storm scientists have documented increased storm intensities of tropical storms, including storms like Katrina, which strike me as significant regional events (note of caution here: it is impossible to know if Katrina or any particular storm is more severe due to global warming; what we do know is that the tendency for storms to be stronger is going up.)

MarburgerIt is frustrating to see high-powered officials in the federal government with their heads so deeply buried in the sand. I was recently in the library with my son and browsing in the young adult section. I noticed a book called "Global Warming," and was of course interested in seeing what teenagers might be reading on the subject. Glancing through I noted that the science was solid but a good deal of the information seemed out of date, so I checked the publication date: 1988!! Yes, twenty years ago the basic science on climate change was already pretty much settled and here we are twenty years later with powerful political figures who are--to steal from a popular TV show--dumber than a 5th grader.

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