It sounds like something borrowed from Steve McQueen’s 1958 science fiction classic. But this “Blob” is real and even more nightmarish. A 130,000-mile blob of warm water has been parked for several years off the coast of Uruguay. It’s killing the yellow clams that sustain a key local industry, boosting algae growth and generally wreaking havoc on marine industries.
It’s one of numerous new hot zones around the world — spots where average temperatures have risen by at least 2 degrees Celsius over the past century. Experts view that number as the threshold of increase that, if reached planet-wide, will bring global damage beyond human ability to reverse it.
An analysis of data by The Washington Post finds that roughly one-tenth of the planet is already there, with the list of hot zones growing. They’re a reminder that global warming is an immediate reality — and that the Trump administration’s hostility toward attempts to address it is an existential threat.
The newspaper examination of the Uruguay hot zone and others like it around the globe provides a jolting picture of what awaits the rest of the planet if humanity doesn’t reduce the greenhouse gases that have helped make the past five years the hottest on record.
As the Post reports, such zones correspond to wildfires in Alaska, shrinking glaciers in the Alps and melting permafrost in northern Canada. Fishermen in the developing world face the loss of their livelihoods. Parts of the Middle East have become unbearably hot. Places like New England and Siberia are no longer legendary for their cold winters.
Human-caused global warming is no longer a debatable theory, nor a problem solely for future generations. From dying clams to melting sea ice to rising ocean levels to more frequent, powerful and erratic hurricanes, it’s real, and it’s here.
Yet for almost three years, President Donald Trump’s administration has consistently pursued policies of climate-change denial to a point that it can only be described as environmental sabotage. It has included ordering the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord and lowering restrictions on automobile emissions. Relaxed regulations on fossil-fuel production have opened public lands for drilling and promoted coal mining. Trump has openly mocked renewable resources like wind and solar.
The administration’s zeal to tear down protections is so extreme that it has drawn opposition even from major players in the automobile and fossil-fuel industries, indicating this isn’t just typical Republican coddling of business. Trump is working to whip up his anti-government base while nurturing his own psychological need to tear down every piece of President Barack Obama’s legacy.
There is no good reason to ruin the planet, but these rank among the worst. Pushing back should be a bipartisan imperative. After all, these growing hot zones don’t differentiate between parties.