Opinion

After the deluge, worries about climate change

This editorial appeared in The News & Observer

The relentless rain that flooded parts of the Triangle last week is gone and the waters have receded, but a worry should remain: The climate is changing.

The Triangle and the nation are experiencing extreme weather more often. The fluke event is not so much of a fluke.

On Monday, rain gauges at Raleigh-Durham International Airport recorded 4.51 inches of rain. The previous record for that day – April 24 – was 1.55 inches, a record that had stood since 1944. The deluge also shattered the record for any day in the rainy month of April – 3.37 inches on April 26, 1978. The area is on track to finish the month with twice the normal rainfall.

And it’s not just rain that’s abnormal. On Feb, 17 in Raleigh, the temperature hit 83 degrees. The previous record was 75 in 1999. The average temperature in February was 59.9 degrees, the warmest ever recorded. It broke a record that had stood since 1890.

Scientist say 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded. Ten of the hottest ever have come since 2000. The rise is affecting more than polar ice. It’s changing the migratory patterns of animals and the growing range of plants. And it’s producing powerful storms.

Amid these changes, President Donald Trump is threatening to pull out of the Paris climate accord and doing all he can to spur the burning of more fossil fuels, even rolling back fuel economy standards for cars and trucks.

The president wants $54 billion more for defense spending, but he’s exposing the nation to what even many of his generals agree is a threat to U.S. security – rising seas and more dangerous weather.

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