Two days before the presidential inauguration, scientists are expected to announce that 2016 was the hottest year on earth since record-keeping began in 1880 — news that will test national, state and economic leadership on climate change.
Even as Washington D.C. and California bundle up against winter chill, records will show that extreme heat blanketed large areas of every continent this year, pushing up average temperatures for the third year in a row.
“2016 will break the global temperature record that was set in 2015, which broke the record that was set in 2014,” said climate change scientist Noah S. Diffenbaugh, professor of the Department of Earth System Science at Stanford University.
“This reality is not going to simply disappear by denying that it exists, or by dismissing it as a hoax, or by claiming that it is too complicated to understand or to address,” said Diffenbaugh, who studies the role of human-caused greenhouse gases in climate variability.
President-elect Donald Trump has claimed publicly that “nobody really knows” about the causes of climate change. He has said that one of his first steps as president will be to reverse restrictions on gas and oil leasing and development. Several of his cabinet nominees are linked to fossil fuel industries.
In contrast, California Gov. Jerry Brown has vowed to defend the state’s tough policies to fight climate change. Governors, legislatures and regulators set building codes, determine how utilities buy power and decide…
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