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Party StanceLive Science examined the 2016 Democratic Party platform, released Monday (July 25), to find out how decisions by Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president, and other elected Democratic officials might impact environmental, health and technology issues. Then, our reporters and editors dug into the scientific research related to the party's stances on issues from climate change to health screenings.
[Read our analysis of the Republican National Committee platform and Election Day 2016: A Guide to When, What, Why and How]
Here's Live Science's guide to the Democratic National Committee (DNC)'s platform and the science that may support or run contrary to these party stances.
Policies related to scienceSlide 2 of 21
Policies related to science
The DNC platform lays out numerous policies aimed at bolstering research in science, technology and medicine. Here are several examples from the platform:
"Democrats support ambitious public and private investments in science, technology, and research."
"We support policies that will allow more research on marijuana…"
"We will strengthen support for NASA and work in partnership with the international scientific community to launch new missions to space."
"Democrats believe we must accelerate the pace of medical progress, ensuring that we invest more in our scientists and give them the resources they need to invigorate our fundamental studies in the life sciences in a growing, stable, and predictable way."Slide 3 of 21
Climate changeSlide 4 of 21
DNC platform: "Climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time. Fifteen of the 16 hottest years on record have occurred this century… The best science tells us that without ambitious, immediate action across our economy to cut carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases, all of these impacts will be far worse in the future."
The science: A growing body of evidence confirms that rapid climate change, driven by human activity, is underway, and if steps are not taken quickly to slow its pace, the repercussions for the planet could be devastating.
Data recently released by NASA suggested that there is a 99 percent chance that 2016 will finish up as the hottest year on record, with each of the first six months already shattering temperature records. Not only have all 16 of the hottest years on record occurred during this century, but all of them fall within the past two decades. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the 16 warmest years since record keeping began in 1880 all occurred between 1998 and 2015, with 2015 currently ranked as the hottest year to date and 2014 taking second place.
Years with low precipitation combined with longer and more frequent heat waves, which are brought on by climate change, are more likely to cause severe drought, studies have shown, while wildfire seasons are also getting longer and may become more frequent in certain regions if dry conditions prevail.
Another consequence of higher temperatures is melting sea ice and glaciers. Sea-ice cover in the Arctic is at a record low since observations began 40 years ago, according to NASA. Arctic animals that depend on sea ice face shrinking habitats, with reduced access to places where they can mate, raise their young, or hunt for food. And with less ice cover to reflect the sun, more of its heat is absorbed by the ocean, warming it further and threatening vulnerable marine wildlife.
Meanwhile, melting ice raises sea levels, which can threaten coastal cities and even submerge islands, creating climate refugees. By some estimates, sea levels around the world could rise as much as several meters before the end of this century.
Climate models further suggest that a warming world carries an increased risk of extreme weather, with a study published in the September 2013 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society finding that global warming could be linked to at least six extreme weather events in 2012, including a severe U.S. heatwave and Hurricane Sandy.Slide 5 of 21
Clean energySlide 6 of 21
DNC platform: "Democrats believe that carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases should be priced to reflect their negative externalities, and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy and help meet our climate goals."
The science: The gradual heating of the Earth, known as climate change or global warming, is due to the greenhouse effect. Ninety-seven percent of scientists attribute climate change to human activity, because burning fossil fuels releases high concentrations of greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and other greenhouse gases act like a blanket over the Earth, absorbing the sun's radiation and preventing it from escaping into space.
In an effort to curtail greenhouse gas emissions and diminish the impact of human activities on the health of the planet, 195 nations signed the Paris Agreement in 2015. By cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the Paris Agreement's overall goal is to keep average global temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels.
The agreement, like many before it, does not include an enforcement mechanism or penalty, which has led to a call for taxes on greenhouse gas emissions, and carbon in particular. There is already a growing global momentum to put a price on carbon emissions, according to the World Bank, with about 40 national and 23 subnational governments establishing carbon-pricing mechanisms.
Clean energy sources, as an alternative to fossil fuels, also help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable energies — like solar and wind power, or newer technologies like ocean energy turbines — have low emissions (if any at all). The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also noted the feasibility of renewable energy technologies. In the panel's 2014 report, the IPCC wrote that clean energy sources "have achieved a level of technical and economic maturity to enable deployment at a significant scale."
In fact, the renewable energy industry and other technological advances that harness the power of nature were referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolutionat the 2016 World Economic Forum annual meeting.Slide 7 of 21
Arctic and Atlantic DrillingSlide 8 of 21