Gazette editorial: Mock nature at your own risk

As the mammoth 2016 blizzard rolled eastward, Delegate Rupie Phillips, D-Logan, took the opportunity to lampoon scientific evidence of global warming. He gave fellow lawmakers bottles of sunscreen — a crude joke implying that there cannot be planetary warming if blizzards occur.

The coal-county delegate is pathetically wrong. Mountains of proof show that burning fossil fuels sends carbon fumes into the sky, creating a “greenhouse” layer that heats Earth’s surface, causing ever-worse weather disasters, and more weather extremes, both hot and cold.

The Pacific Ocean warming known as El Niño disrupted weather across America. Extra-warm Gulf of Mexico water evaporated excessively, sending vast tons of moisture northeast, because hotter air holds more humidity. All this apparently contributed to the blizzard.

In a stinging editorial, the Register-Herald of Beckley called the Logan delegate a “self-serving charlatan,” adding: “We prefer science — not buffoonery. … We want leaders who stop making a mockery of science.”

The paper recited that “2015 was the hottest year globally on record — 2014 was the next-hottest — 2016 is setting up, with El Niño’s help, to break the 2015 record.” It recounted that thousands of people in the tropics die from intense heat waves, while monster storms inflict billions in damage.

“So, ice caps are melting, seas are rising, people are dying, aquatic life is stressed, and scientists say the global warming is heating up. And that, as they say, is just the tip of the iceberg. Meanwhile, we have a state delegate who is making jokes about it all.”

The Register-Herald concluded: “Clearly, fossil fuels are our past, not our future. Politicians who mock widely held scientific beliefs aren’t making themselves useful.”

When West Virginians feel frustrated that their problems are not understood or appreciated, they can thank people like Rupie Phillips.

Climate change is happening everywhere, and the disruption and death that comes with it, whether West Virginia elects lawmakers smart enough to acknowledge it or not.

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