The revelation last week that July was the hottest month on record shows why Californians should continue their efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and help lead the national push to replace the climate-change denier in the White House.

The state has already met its 2020 targets for greenhouse-gas reduction under the 2006 law signed by former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and has set ambitious future targets. But California’s best opportunity to bring about significant change requires choosing in the March 3 primary a Democratic presidential nominee who has the best chance of defeating Donald Trump in November.

Polls show that Trump’s dismissal of climate change as a hoax is overwhelmingly unpopular with potential 2020 voters. Democrats have an opportunity to use this issue to defeat him in 2020 and make further inroads in Congress. It’s imperative that Democrats choose a candidate with a solid climate plan that has broad appeal.

The first two Democratic debates have not made that job any easier. The failure to emphasize climate change is beyond disappointing, as is Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez’ effort to block calls for a debate on the topic. Voters need to hear the candidates’ positions.

Progressives have been pushing the Green New Deal, a big, bold plan introduced in Congress in February to tackle both climate change and income inequality. But polls show that support for the plan falters when details are presented to moderate, independent voters who are likely to decide the outcome of the 2020 election.

Last week’s announcement by scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is only the latest warning sign that the president and Congress cannot afford to ignore the reality that the planet is steadily warming.


Climate change, of course, does not cause heat waves. But scientists say that it clearly acts to make them longer and hotter.

The result: The global average temperature in July was 62.2 degrees Fahrenheit — 1.71 degrees higher than the 20th century average. That followed the previous month, which the NOAA said was the hottest June on record.

“It is virtually certain that we will have a ‘top-five’ warmest year on record” in 2019, said Deke Arndt, chief of the monitoring section of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

The Bay Area and the nation as a whole may have enjoyed a relatively mild July, but the rest of the world sweltered in record heat. Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands set all-time heat records. The sizzling temperatures are responsible for wildfires in Siberia that have already burned 7.4 million acres, an area roughly equivalent to the entire state of Maryland.

Equally alarming, on Aug. 1, more than 12 billion tons of ice melted in a single day in Greenland, marking the largest loss of ice since records began in 1950.

Time is running out on our ability to combat the threat of climate change. We cannot afford another four years in which the federal government does not embrace the worldwide effort to fight global warming.

Editorial by The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

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