OF all the “fake news” to come out of the White House since the election of President Trump, climate change denial has surely got to be one of the most obvious to refute.

There’s no amount of “alternative facts” that can explain the extremes in heat experienced by many countries across the globe this summer, including the United States. Wildfires, drought, record-breaking temperatures and floods – global warming is happening on our doorstep.

At home in Scotland, we basked in unseasonable amounts of sunshine from spring into early summer, with the rest of the UK experiencing unusually high temperatures for the time of year. Meanwhile, in places as far apart as Greece, Sweden and California, this worldwide heatwave brought with it incredible destruction, tragic loss of life and homes burnt to the ground by fires raging out of control.

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In Japan, record numbers of people have died from heat-related complications; in Kerala in India, exceptionally heavy rainfall has caused utter devastation for much of the region; while temperatures in the Arctic Circle were higher than in Southern Spain this August.

And it’s only going to get worse. As far as scientific research is concerned, there is no doubt that the temperature of the earth is rising and will continue to do so with catastrophic results. The last four years have been the hottest recorded yet on this planet, with CO2 levels at a sobering 800,000-year high in 2017. Other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide are also at their highest level since records began. Scientists can now gather data on extreme weather and look for links to human-made climate change, to the burning of fossil fuels and aggressive clearing of large forests, that has increased the amount of carbon in our atmosphere to threatening levels.

These alarming conclusions make it harder and harder for even the most ardent climate-change denier to patronise and ridicule those who draw attention to such an urgent issue.

Yet, they continue to do so. Only last week, Trump was debunking any connection between human-made global warming and the forest fires in America, despite the gathering storm of evidence. But the problem the president now faces is that, when you’re a victim of unmanageable wildfires or indeed hurricanes and floods, then climate change becomes more than just a political football. It becomes personal. For many of those affected by the extreme weather this past year, it’s not a question of whether they believe in climate change or not. They are living it.

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A report published this month by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research proposes a dangerous “hothouse earth” scenario if temperatures continue to rise, forcing our climate and earth system out of balance into an irreversible situation beyond our control, where whole areas of the globe will become uninhabitable.

The report suggests that the Paris Agreement does not go far enough, that we desperately need to speed up decarbonisation and investment in renewables, setting tougher targets for zero emissions to be achieved sooner, rather than later, in order to prevent this runaway effect.

Trump has made no secret about what he thinks of the Paris Agreement, irresponsibly promising to withdraw the USA from any connection with the convention’s environmental targets as he pursues his America First agenda.

The National:

Of course, no-one will be “first” if global warming continues at this rate, but climate deniers like Trump refuse to see this. Which brings me to a quote from the Potsdam report that seems particularly apt – the publication states that “avoiding this (hothouse earth) scenario requires a redirection of human actions from exploitation to stewardship of the Earth system”.

In other words, looking after our planet instead of plundering its natural resources for short-term financial profit, with terrible long-term results. The problem is, President Trump knows all about exploitation and very little about looking after something. He can’t see the bigger picture if its obscured by dollar bills and gold bars, the ideology of “money talks”. Because to deny climate change is a complete giveaway of shadier motivations or at least a bad case of short-sightedness.

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If we look deeper at who benefits from a continued refusal to accept scientific research and evidence on global warming, then we can see that it’s all about vested interest, lining pockets, old school ties and boardroom handshakes. It’s rather like Brexit really. Scratch away at the surface fluff and misinformation and look below to a whole mire of self-interest and protected assets churning underneath.

And, just like Brexit, it’s the younger generation that can see clearly the errors of their elders who have gambled away their future. Because any millennials reading this column are already well aware of the risks to our planet from the greed of large corporations and uncontrolled carbon emissions.

For them, there is no debate about whether climate change exists. Just like my generation, who grew up with the nuclear war threat, this generation has also grown up with the prospect of their world being destroyed, this time by certain members of the older generation, who peddle lies on the effects of their obsession with profit and making a quick buck, and who turn a blind eye to the dangerous by-products of their careless over-consumption. It is these millennials who are pushing for tougher environmental protection and innovative ways to source renewable energy in a frightening race against time. Thankfully it’s these millennials, too, that have growing voter power to challenge leaders who continue to play down the threat to our natural world.

Because the climate challenges of 2018 have shown us that the future is here now, and global warming is a reality that can no longer be denied.