NASA released a new study that warns about severe weather, such as “megadroughts” that will plague the Southwest and Central Plains of the United States from 2050 to 2099. The study says that greenhouse gas emissions can increase the likelihood of this severe weather.
If greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase along current trajectories throughout the 21st century, there is an 80 percent likelihood of a decades-long megadrought in the Southwest and Central Plains between the years 2050 and 2099.
At the same time, the Environment Protection Agency’s (EPA) rules for mercury emissions from power plants (specifically targeting coal power plants) is going to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The mercury emissions rules would help close down every coal power plant that provides close to 40 percent of the electricity in the United States. As the Supreme Court reviews these rules, the court should consider that:
- There is more mercury in the air from natural sources ― such as volcanoes ― than from all human activity.
- Mercury emitted from both volcanoes and coal-fired smokestacks resides for months in the air, usually until it is precipitated out by some rainstorm. In addition, a large amount of the mercury that falls in North America originated in highly polluted China.
- All U.S. emissions are 2 percent of the global total.
- U.S. power plants emit only half of that ― about 0.5 percent of the total ― and by 2016 will emit even less than that.
The climate is changing, always has and will continue to do so. However, the human impact to that change, especially in the United States, is minimal. Making this issue so politically incendiary distracts our leaders from doing their job, hurts our economy and weakens the U.S. position in the world.