With irrefutable data mounting that global warming is the real thing, the question must be asked of the naysayers: Do they really believe that severe climate change is a just a "hoax," as Oklahoma's U.S. Sen. James Inhofe insists, or are they merely protecting friends in industry from investing in technological changes that would curtail air emissions that influence the atmosphere's makeup?
Answering either way only reveals a stubbornness that ill serves the future of the planet.
Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared that the year 2010 thus far has been the hottest year since 1880, when statistics began being kept.
From January to July, the average global temperature was 58.1 degrees, 1.22 degrees more than that of the 20th century.
Consider samples. Finland recorded an all-time high of 99 degrees in July. A heat wave with temperatures over 100 hit Moscow. Icebergs the size of Manhattan are breaking off Arctic glaciers. Flooding in Asia and the United States. Drought.
Rather than waiting for industrial nations to agree jointly on a global warming treaty that could take years, the United States should unilaterally use its acknowledged role as an international leader and impose new air emission standards that eventually will shame other nations into action.
Once global warming's momentum increases, reversing the damage will be virtually impossible.
Americans can't afford to fiddle with the environment while the planet burns.