CLIMATE CHANGE IS A REALITY
July 10, 2011
to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's 2010 State of
the Climate report released last week, "The year 2010 was among the
two warmest years globally since the . . . late 19th century." The
statement has qualifications and caveats, but the point, according to
the American Meteorological Society, is that "Earth's atmospheric
and oceanic temperatures are rising unabated" and "the world
continues to warm."
the report from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, some people will
reject the idea that global climate change is a problem. First, some will
reject the body of data because the information comes from a "government
agency," automatically making the data suspect. Second, the information
is collected by scientists, and some people are inherently distrustful
of the scientific community, suspecting conspiracies or data manipulation
or both, especially when the scientific findings are unpopular. (This
is not a new phenomenon. The Vatican refused to accept Galileo's assertion
that the earth revolves around the sun because it seemed to contradict
opinions about the NOAA report will also come from those who dispute that
today's global warming is caused primarily by atmospheric increases in
greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) from industrial and other commercial
sources. In other words, temperatures are rising around the world but
humans are not responsible. The earth was warmer eons ago than it is now,
so why fret? (Is it worth noting that humans did not live during those
times?) Others accept the fact that temperatures are rising and that human
activity is the root cause, but they stubbornly oppose any proposal to
ameliorate the situtation.
warming denier is Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who has declared that "the
threat of catastrophic global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated
on the American people." I can certainly think of a hoax or two that
would challenge concerns about global warming for "the greatest."
Nonetheless, Inhofe has proposed legislation that would limit the EPA's
efforts to regulate greenhouse gases. I am certainly not a proponent of
all government regulation, state or federal. But supporting the EPA's
authority to curtail pollution that is profiting a few and doing serious
harm to the rest of us seems like a no-brainer. When a U.S. senator outright
opposes that authority, I wonder what his motives are.
In case you
do not recall the documented changes that are a consequence of global
warming, here is a sampling: in the Arctic the winter season has been
shortened, melting the icy habitat that is essential for survival of polar
bears. Individual polar bears have been reported to have lost weight and
be producing fewer cubs. According to the American Meteorological Society,
commenting on the NOAA report, "The Arctic warmed about twice as
fast as the rest of the world, reducing sea ice extent to its third lowest
level on record." Many species of plants unquestionably bloom earlier
each year, and many animals indisputably breed earlier in the season now
than they did a few years ago. Whether you think these facts are worth
worrying about is opinion; whether you trust the federal government to
look out for our best interest and try to alleviate the problems is a
political position. The changes themselves, however, are real regardless
of how you feel about government reports or scientists.
aka climate change, is an emotional issue involving politics, commercial
interests, environmental positions and personal egos to such a point that
no clear consensus will be reached and no uncontested resolution will
be forthcoming in the near future. I appreciated the comments of Mike
Huckabee when he was considering running for the Republican presidential
nomination. He said, "We have to be good stewards of the earth."
And although he said he was not convinced that climate change was driven
by human activities, he contended that we should put controls on the emission
of greenhouses gases anyway.
we just cannot afford to be wrong about. Most scientists believe that
global climate change is one of them.
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