Sun editorial:

If Trump won’t take climate change seriously, it’s up to governors to act

Gov. Steve Sisolak’s announcement this week that he had signed Nevada into the U.S. Climate Alliance was welcomed news, especially considering what’s been coming out of the White House recently on climate change.

Sisolak’s action puts Nevada in good company — a coalition of 22 other states whose governors have pledged to work toward meeting the objectives of the Paris Agreement. The group now represents more than half of the U.S. population and 57 percent of the U.S. economy, according to Sisolak’s office.

Members of the alliance commit to three actions: Implement policies to reduce greenhouse gases by at least 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, track and report progress toward that goal, and back initiatives to reduce carbon emissions and promote clean energy production.

Those are commendable efforts, and it comes as no surprise that Sisolak drew praise from environmental groups for entering Nevada into the alliance.

"Climate change is an immediate threat to our environment and to our families, and while the federal government fails to act, states are leading the charge in curbing our carbon footprint,” said Andy Maggi, executive director of the Nevada Conservation League. “Taking action now will not only show the nation that climate action is possible, but also grow Nevada’s clean energy economy and improve our public health.”

Maggi is right — Nevada is on the right track. At the White House, though, a slow-moving disaster is playing out, with the eye of the storm being a president who expresses doubts about the science behind global warming.

One of the latest alarms came late last month, when it was revealed that President Donald Trump was forming a panel to question his own administration’s assessment that climate change represented a national security risk. The news got worse when it was reported that William Happer, an aggressive disbeliever in the science showing that greenhouse gases are contributing to global warming, would lead the panel.

The Princeton physicist believes carbon dioxide emissions are “enormous servants” for the planet by making crops flourish. He’s mocked scientists who raise fears about CO2 accelerating climate change, and has gone so far as to say that “demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the Jews under Hitler.”

With someone like this running the panel, what’s the point of discussing the matter? Even though there’s a mountain of evidence showing that greenhouse gases are fueling the problem, it’s hard to imagine that the group will consider any of it.

Meanwhile, the signs of climate change are all around us. Massive hurricanes hit one after the other, carrying fierce winds and biblical rainfall. Wildfires rage in the western states amid a prolonged drought that threatens to intensify as temperatures rise. Coastal communities are dealing with the rise in ocean levels by removing utility lines, schools and other buildings from low-lying areas or, in the case of San Francisco, approving a $425 million bond issue for a portion of work needed on a sea wall.

Yet Trump and his enablers continue to spread the discredited narrative that climate science is fake and that the concerns over the crisis are manufactured.

Just look at Trump’s doltish tweets on the matter. The latest came this week when he passed along a gross mischaracterization that a co-founder of Greenpeace had declared that climate science was fake. In fact, the individual was not a co-founder of the organization, left Greenpeace 30 years ago and has since worked as a paid spokesman for several polluting industries.

And that tweet came after umpteen others in which Trump suggested that cold winter temperatures were signs that global warming was not occurring. Quick science lesson: Despite cold temperatures, the overall global temperature has increased significantly, and those brutal cold snaps are actually another form of the extreme conditions that are occurring more often as climate change disrupts weather patterns.

So thank goodness for rational, responsible leaders like Sisolak and his fellow governors in the U.S. Climate Alliance.

In a situation where grown-ups are desperately needed to help prevent irreversible damage, they’re stepping up and doing the right thing.