In this aerial view meltwater forms lakes on ice in the Ilulissat Icefjord on August 04, 2019 near Ilulissat, Greenland. The Sahara heat wave that recently sent temperatures to record levels in parts of Europe has also reached Greenland. Climate change is having a profound effect in Greenland, where over the last several decades summers have become longer and the rate that glaciers and the Greenland ice cap are retreating has accelerated. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The Jolt: When climate change confronts the nation’s political class

Thomas Mote is a professor of geography and atmospheric science at the University of Georgia. For the past 25 years, he’s monitored Arctic climate change – most specifically, the Greenland ice sheet.

On Wednesday, Mote wrote an op-ed piece for D.C.-based newspaper, The Hill, that explained the importance of a dome of warm air that hovered over Greenland and its frosty covering last week. Among the preliminaries:

The Greenland ice sheet covers an area the size of Alaska with enough ice to raise global sea level by more than 20 feet.

Data “showed more than 60 percent of the surface area of the ice sheet melting last Wednesday,” Mote wrote. His conclusion:

Mass losses from Greenland this past week were already approaching levels not expected until 2070 based on the best available models. It is still too early to tell if the ice losses for the summer will exceed the losses in 2012, but it is clear that the Greenland ice sheet is rapidly responding to climate change, even faster than many scientists expected.

These rapid changes point to the necessity for action on climate change and for improved observing systems to monitor the ice sheet.

You might wonder why Mote felt compelled to write the above for a Washington audience. Then again, this was also published on Monday, by

One of the nation’s leading climate change scientists is quitting the Agriculture Department in protest over the Trump administration’s efforts to bury his groundbreaking study about how rice is losing nutrients because of rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Lewis Ziska, a 62-year-old plant physiologist who’s worked at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service for more than two decades, [said] he was alarmed when department officials not only questioned the findings of the study — which raised serious concerns for the 600 million people who depend on rice for most of their calories — but also tried to minimize media coverage of the paper, which was published in the journal Science Advances last year.

According to the Politico piece, Ziska described a department “in constant fear of the president and Secretary Sonny Perdue’s open skepticism about broadly accepted climate science.”


Former state senator Michael Williams, who finished last in the 2018 GOP primary for governor, apologized this morning for his candidacy. Williams pleaded guilty in May to making a false report that computers had been stolen from his campaign headquarters.


The weekend massacres in El Paso and Dayton continue spark outrage and protest.

U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., is scheduled to speak this afternoon at the Kiwanis Club of Atlanta's weekly luncheon. It'll be his first extended public remarks since the mass shootings.

Don't expect Perdue to break with his ally President Donald Trump on gun control or any other major policy issues. Perdue condemned the twin attacks in a Tweet on Sunday afternoon that thanked first responders and law enforcement who rushed to the scene.

Meanwhile, members of the group Resist Trump Tuesdays plan to protest outside of Perdue's Atlanta office this afternoon "to demand that Georgia Senators Perdue and Isakson break the gridlock over gun control in the Senate, and break their silence over Trump’s hate speech."

Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry, one of Perdue's two announced Democratic opponents, went a step further, suggesting Monday via Twitter that the rhetoric Perdue used during a Saturday appearance at Erick Erickson’s Resurgent gathering was incendiary:

On Friday @sendavidperdue said that Democrats were trying to “destroy America” & create a “one party system.” Besides those statements being a load of rancid watermelon rinds and utter nonsense. It’s also dangerous rhetoric.


U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, wasn’t buying Donald Trump’s Monday condemnation of racism and white supremacy. Afterwards, Lewis wrote via Twitter:

What happened in Texas can clearly be laid at the President’s feet. He encouraged people. He created the climate. He fanned the flames.

Lewis, you may remember, led a sit-in on the House floor over the same issue more than three years ago. 


Even get-well wishes can’t escape comment in the current climate. GPB producer Tom Faust spotted a Sunday evening Twitter message from U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is currently in rehab after breaking four ribs in a fall. It was directed at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who broke his shoulder in a fall the same day. Wrote Isakson:

Take my word for it, bone fractures are no fun. Wishing a speedy recovery to my friend Mitch as he heals. No one works harder in the Senate, and I’m positive this won’t set him back one bit. Looking forward to being back together in September to continue our work!

Let us just say there were many re-Tweets comparing the pain of broken bones to gunshot wounds.


Stacey Abrams will headline a dinner on Wednesday for the Progressive National Baptist Convention’s annual session in Atlanta. Other speakers at the event include the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Raphael Warnock. The religious denomination numbers 2.5 million members. 


On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence headlined an event in Buckhead, where he warned conservatives of the spread of socialism, at the same time the Democratic Socialists of America’s national convention was taking place in downtown Atlanta. Check out the latest Politically Georgia podcast on the head-snapping political whiplash of the day


The pro-David Perdue Georgia Action Fund unveiled a new website that targets the senator’s Democratic opponents as -- you guessed it -- “too radical for Georgia.” It will be the home for Republican-funded criticism of former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry going forward. Check it out here. 


On Monday, we received a note from Nick Tomboulides, the executive director for U.S. Term Limits, complaining that U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point, had refused to co-sponsor a bill that limits congressional time in office – despite signing a pledge to that effect.

“We have made repeat[ed] outreach to his office staff and even delivered the congressman a glass replica of his pledge in December -- as a reminder,” Tomboulides wrote.

Ferguson denies that he’s reneged. “Congressman Ferguson believes in term limits and has been working to find the best solution that will actually pass in Congress. It’s a commitment he made when he first ran and it’s a commitment he plans to keep,” said spokesman Brian Piper.

“That will actually pass” being the operative phrase.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.