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Charleston Gazette-Mail editorial: Another global warming price to pay

Television news, which thrives on dramatic videos, has spent most of the summer showing terrible wildfires ripping through Western states, destroying homes, killing firefighters, costing taxpayers billions, sickening some residents through smoke pollution.

Wildfires are one of many expensive evils being inflicted on Planet Earth by global warming. Others include worse hurricanes, droughts, floods, twisters, sea level rise, storm surge and such nature calamities. Economic losses may reach trillions.

Last week, NASA issued another warning saying sea levels will rise at least 3 feet this century, making coastal regions vulnerable to severe storm damage.

Regarding wildfires, the Union of Concerned Scientists says:

“Wildfires in the western United States have been increasing in frequency and duration since the mid-1980s, occurring nearly four times more often, burning more than six times the land area, and lasting almost five times as long.”

This rising menace is mostly attributable to drier, hotter conditions caused by “the greenhouse-gas emissions we have already produced,” the organization says.

Ominously, once the wildfire season is over, burned-over regions will be vulnerable to deadly flash floods and mudslides, because water-absorbing forest has been destroyed.

As usual, West Virginia coal interests and politicians probably will declare that fossil-fuel burning doesn’t cause greenhouse gases that heat Earth. They will claim that air pollution controls are a sinister “war on coal,” and that climate change is a left-wing myth.

Here’s a silly example:

As President Obama headed to New Orleans to mark the 10 anniversary of deadly Hurricane Katrina — which killed 1,245 people and caused $108 billion damage — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal asked him not to mention global warming.

Jindal said the anniversary should not be a time for “the divisive political agenda of liberal environmental activism,” and that any mention of climate change “would be met with nothing but derision.”

Good grief. Overwhelming scientific evidence asserts that burning fossil fuels creates a greenhouse layer in the sky, heating the planet and causing ever-worse weather nightmares like Katrina. Just because Jindal and other conservatives greet this evidence with “derision” doesn’t make it any less real.

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