Saturday, December 16, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: The unvarnished truth about climate change

The latest federal report on the Earth's warming climate doesn't mince words about the disturbing trends, man's contributions or the dangers that millions across the globe already face, especially in low-lying coastal areas in Florida and elsewhere. It is yet another call to action for federal, state and local officials — and they all have a role to play in curbing emissions of heat-trapping gases, shoring up infrastructure, improving flood control and finding more efficient ways for societies to grow and manage their populations.

Drafted by scientists at 13 federal agencies, the report cited the warming trend as "global, long term and unambiguous." Global temperatures have increased by about 1.6 degrees over the past 150 years, the study found, and thousands of studies have created "many lines of evidence" to conclude that human activity is primarily behind the changing climate. The authors found it "extremely likely" that most of the warming since 1951 was caused by humans, and that even if emissions were to cease, existing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would cause temperatures to increase at least a half-degree Fahrenheit over this century.

The report, by 30 lead authors representing agencies such as NASA, federal laboratories, the private sector and universities, is part of the National Climate Assessment. That is a congressionally mandated analysis that seeks to build on the existing science and provide a snapshot of the current state of climate change. It found an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather, and warming in the Arctic at twice the rate of the global average — a phenomenon that could impact sea levels, the weather and other patterns in the lower 48 states. One-third of the sea level rise since 1880 has occurred since 1990, and coastal communities from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic are at increasing risk of routine flooding, saltwater intrusion into the drinking water supply and the collapse of roads, utilities and other vital infrastructure. That puts Florida's east and west coastlines at risk, yet Gov. Rick Scott's administration has been less aggressive than local governments in South Florida and Tampa Bay in addressing the challenges.

The findings contradict the talking points of the Trump administration, which has openly questioned the science behind climate change and the degree that humans contribute to it, and which has moved to reverse the clean-air initiatives of the Obama White House. The unpublished analysis was made available to the New York Times days before Sunday's deadline for the 13 federal agencies to approve the report. Making the report public at least forces the Trump administration to explain why it does or does not stand behind the science.

This national assessment lays a foundation for securing federal funding and regulatory direction on climate policy, and it offers state and local governments the technical assistance they need to incorporate the impact of climate change into their planning for infrastructure, land use and other long-term issues. States and cities, though, cannot cede all responsibility to the federal government. Studies show Florida, for example, has invested trillions of dollars in infrastructure with virtually no consideration given to rising sea levels. Rising seas could swell Tampa Bay up to 19 inches over the next quarter-century, putting tens of thousands of residents at risk. The federal study is another wake-up call about a threat that is real, here and more pressing by the day.

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Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17