Get Ready for the Cold

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Lisa Friedman

Two major new polls are in, and they both found that Americans are more attuned to the threats of climate change than ever before.

My colleague John Schwartz wrote about one of the big surveys, which was conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. It found that about 73 percent of Americans believe global warming is occurring, a record high and a jump of 10 percentage points from 2015. Another record: The percentage of Americans who said global warming is personally important to them was 72 percent, an increase of nine points since March.

Those results mirrored a separate survey, from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, that found 71 percent of Americans believe climate change is happening. About half of those people said they found the science of climate change to be more conclusive than it was five years ago and the vast majority cited extreme weather as the main reason.

And the science remains dire. A new study, which my colleague John also wrote about, found that Greenland is losing ice at a pace never before seen. The authors found that the ice loss in 2012, more than 400 billion tons per year, was nearly four times the rate in 2003. It’s part of a growing body of research, John noted, that shows the effects of rising global temperatures are mounting.

One person who doesn’t seem concerned? President Trump. Mr. Trump, as he is wont to do during wintertime cold snaps, mocked climate science over the weekend.

“Large parts of the Country are suffering from tremendous amounts of snow and near record setting cold,” the president said Sunday on Twitter. “Wouldn’t be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!”

Let’s hope someone showed him Kendra Pierre-Louis’ excellent article on what a polar vortex is, how they’re linked to frigid temperatures and snowstorms, and how more frequent polar vortex breakdowns may be tied to climate change.


CreditPhoto Illustration by The New York Times; shredder via Shutterstock

Somini Sengupta

The Trump administration, which has reversed dozens of environmental protections over the past two years, is now weighing whether to scrap an executive order designed to factor in climate change in overseas development aid, according to the State Department.

The executive order, signed by President Barack Obama in 2014, required diplomats making funding decisions about development aid to account for helping those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The State Department said it planned to talk to “stakeholders” to decide whether to recommend that President Trump rescind that order.

The department signaled that effort in a response to a report issued last week by the Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan auditing arm of Congress.

That report found that the State Department no longer offered “clear guidance” to its diplomatic missions around the world on how to assess the geopolitical risks of climate change. “As such, missions are less likely to examine climate change as a risk to their strategic objectives, or to do so in a consistent manner, and thus may not have the information they would need to identify migration as a risk of climate change,” the report said.

The State Department’s press office did not offer a response, citing the partial government shutdown.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon released a report last week outlining how it was shoring up its military bases against extreme weather, including rising temperatures, drought and floods. It called the effects of climate change “a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense missions, operational plans, and installations.”

The report was criticized by Democratic members of Congress for failing to include what Congress asked for in requesting the report: a list of the 10 most vulnerable military bases in each service branch.

Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the report “an inadequate, incomplete, partisan document” that “carries about as much value as a phonebook.”

“President Trump’s climate change denial must not adversely impact the security environment where our troops live, work, and serve,” the senator said in a statement.

CreditTyler Varsell

By Eduardo Garcia

Let’s talk about cracks and gaps and crevices, because your home may have quite a few of them. Small holes in your window frames, below your doors, around the corners of your air-conditioning unit, behind moldings and under baseboards may be costing you money and harming the environment.

Insulation and climate change may seem unrelated, but better insulation keeps more heat inside your home during the winter, reducing the amount of energy you use to stay warm. In a report this month, the research firm Rhodium Group noted that increased demand for residential heating contributed to a 3.4 percent rise in United States carbon dioxide emissions last year.

“There is a really important connection between using less energy and cutting emissions, which I think is not always a direct line for people,” said Lauren Urbanek, a senior energy policy advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit environmental group. “They don’t see that this is something they can do that would have a big impact.”

Ms. Urbanek said the vast majority of houses in the country would benefit from better insulation, unless they were built in recent years and under high standards.

According to the N.R.D.C., if you added up all the various gaps, the average American home would have a 3-foot by 3-foot hole in the wall. But even if your home resembles a colander, finding all the holes may be a challenge.

Experts recommend that you hire an energy auditor, who will use high-tech diagnostic devices, like infrared thermographers, to assess your home’s insulation. (We covered thermographic inspections in more detail last summer.) They can determine whether your walls need blown-in insulation, which can be quite cost-effective in the long term.

Check with your utility company. Some will send energy auditors free of charge for a walk-through audit, while others may offer rebates.

Insulation can also be a great do-it-yourself project. Make sure that the caulk around your windows and doors is in good condition; if not, apply some more. Weatherstripping your windows will also help.

Simple things, like drawing the curtains when it’s dark outside, can help keep heat inside your home. (When there’s sunshine, let it in.) You could consider buying thermal curtains, which are designed to prevent heat loss.

Closing doors will help keep heat in the spaces where you spend the most time, and using a rug in the winter will make a room feel warmer, particularly a room with a tiled floor.

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