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Calls for action on climate change

They say they served four Republican presidents since 1969 and held fast to common-sense conservative principles in tackling some urgent national problems of their time.
Waters so polluted as to let the Cuyahoga River catch fire was among these, man-made chemicals causing a huge hole in the earth-protective ozone layer, and acid rain devastating forests and crops and turning lakes lifeless.
These problems were successfully dealt with, but now “climate change puts all our progress and our successes at risk.”
Thus argue William Ruckelshaus, Lee Thomas, William Reilly and Christine Todd Whitman, heads of the Environmental Protection Agency under their respective administrations, in a New York Times opinion piece in August.
Their “Republican case for climate action” calls this the central problem of our time and the costs of not dealing with it now undeniable. A livable climate, they judge, is at stake and time for effective action is running out.
The former EPA officials praised President Obama’s recently announced climate policy steps as “achievable actions that would deliver real progress.”
These plans, they say, including carbon emission standards for the nation’s power plants and strong investments in renewable, clean-energy technology, “are inarguably the path we must follow to insure a strong economy along with a livable climate.”
The Pentagon has issued similar appeals repeatedly.
In that weather disasters and drought-degraded areas incite migrations and regional conflicts, in that rising seas and intense storms cause damage to military bases on land and in ports, it has called for recognition of global warming as a “serious threat to national security.”
In a report issued last month, military analysts chastised political and business leaders who would still deny the robust science that links carbon emissions to global warming and its harmful effects.
They termed “misguided” the industry’s rush to harvest oil and gas from non-traditional reserves.
Not the country’s dependence on foreign oil is our biggest security threat, it states, but the carbon we pump into the atmosphere and the threat to future generations.
The Interdisciplinary Panel on Climate Change, made up of hundreds of the world’s leading scientists, last month released its fifth report. Like the EPA officials and military analysts, these findings and recommendations make an urgent call for climate action.
Among them are that greenhouse gas concentrations, through the “undeniable” human contribution of fossil fuel burning, have risen 40 percent in the atmosphere to a level unprecedented in at least 800,000 years.
The resulting climate disrupting impacts are accelerating. The international consensus benchmark of holding climate warming to 2 degrees Celsius is at risk under current emissions trends.
If the 2-degree threshold is to hold and climate furies not to be unleashed irreversibly, the amount of carbon the world can safely still burn is far less than the known fossil fuels still in the ground.
It means that the demands of “Drill, baby, drill!” must accept that some “Oil [better be left] in the soil.”