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Climate change is not only no hoax — it’s here. In just the past year we have witnessed some of the evidence: Record rainfall in Texas; unprecedented hurricane activity in the Atlantic; record-setting wildfires during a prolonged fire season in California. Here in St. Louis, between December 2015 and April 2017, we experienced back-to-back “500-year” floods. Since 1874, when the city first started tracking annual temperatures, the three warmest years on record are 2012, 2016, and 2017 — hotter even than the Dust Bowl years. The common occurrences of what-used-to-be infrequent catastrophic events are in line with the predictions of climate models and presage a troubling future. Only in the United States has the issue of climate change become a political hot potato. The Trump administration’s decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris Climate Accords probably strengthened the president’s support with his base, but it represents a total denial of science and is a dangerous backward step for our planet. The president’s choice of Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency reflected a similar mind-set. Pruitt’s “credential” was his fierce opposition, as attorney general of Oklahoma, to the regulations put in place by the federal government to protect the environment and human beings from the effects of burning coal, oil and gas. Of course that made him the darling of the fossil fuel industry.
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