Some of the Obama administration's critics reasonably suspect that it was aiming to please deep-pocket donors by releasing an ominous new National Climate Assessment on Tuesday.
But before dismissing the exhaustive report on that basis, keep in mind that it's the product of wide-ranging research by 240 reputable scientists.
Keep in mind, too, that over the last two decades this expert consensus has emerged: The massive rise in man-made carbon emissions over the last century has significantly contributed to global warming.
That doesn't mean every measure the administration proposes to counter climate change makes economic - or political - sense. For instance, few of President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats are rallying behind his call for a tax on carbon emissions.
Still, it would be foolish to reflexively dismiss this alarm sounded in the scientific panel's report:
"Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present. Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington State, and maple syrup producers in Vermont are all observing climate-related changes that are outside of recent experience. So, too, are coastal planners in Florida, water managers in the arid Southwest, city dwellers from Phoenix to New York, and Native Peoples on tribal lands from Louisiana to Alaska."
The assessment "concludes that the evidence of human-induced climate change continues to strengthen and that impacts are increasing across the country."
While the report doesn't directly blame individual weather events on human-caused climate change, it does cite extreme weather events as "teachable moments" on the trend's dangers.
Yes, long before our kind started sending huge volumes of greenhouse gases into the air, the climate was already ever-changing - at times in extreme fashion, including powerful hurricanes striking New York and New Jersey.
So it's a stretch of logic to contend, as too many climate alarmists (including Al Gore) have, that "Superstorm" Sandy or powerful tornadoes "prove" man-made climate change.
Yet it also stretches logic to imagine that the large majority of scientists warning that climate change's ill effects are already being felt are all co-conspirators in a plot to expand government's power.
That notion is promoted by, among others, right-wing radio powerhouse Rush Limbaugh, who has repeatedly branded the theory of human-caused climate change as a liberal "hoax." He told his listeners Wednesday: "The sad thing is, there's a whole host of low-information people that apparently swallow this, although it isn't a big number."
But those scientists on that assessment panel are not "low-information people." Neither are the cargo ship captains who have found a new "Northwest Passage" short cut in recent years thanks to large-scale melting of Arctic ice.
Neither is 1st District Rep. Mark Sanford. As governor from 2003-11, he demonstrated that being a true conservative does not require being against wise conservation and environmental safeguards.
And Rep. Sanford told our reporter of the NCA report Tuesday: "The assessment that came out today is another reminder that climate change is going to present real challenges for the Lowcountry, and the nation as a whole."
Rep. Sanford pointed out that he has seen "rising sea levels play out at our family farm in Beaufort over the last 50 years." He advocates seeking "solutions that embrace free-market principles, rather than increasing already-burdensome government regulations."
A carbon tax would qualify as another burdensome regulation. And the administration's continued stalling on approving the Keystone XL pipeline costs thousands of American jobs while doing nothing tangible to counter climate change.
Still, advancing alternative forms of non-carbon-emitting energy makes sense (see state Sen. Marlon Kimpson's letter on this page about legislation promoting solar power).
Meanwhile, the National Climate Assessment's notice about long-term sea-level rise should hit home here - and should re-confirm the folly of building condos, hotels and houses on the ocean's edge.
And that report should inspire bipartisan, economically sustainable steps toward reducing carbon emissions.
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