Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Yes, Humans Are Triggering Climate Change


Our planet is getting warmer. Average global temperatures have risen 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, with two-thirds of this warming having taken place since 1975.

Siberia is undergoing an unprecedented thaw. In large areas, the frozen ground that for thousands of years has insulated the permafrost far below is turning to mud.

The accelerating decline of Antarctic ice has many experts frankly scared to death. This loss has tripled in the last decade, now pouring more than 200 billion tons of ice into the ocean annually

Icy Greenland is becoming greener. Thawing glaciers are dumping huge amounts of ice into the ocean. The country's ice sheet is rapidly shrinking.

The world’s oceans are being heated by an unceasing flow of greenhouse gas emissions into our planet’s atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil produces these gases, which trap the sun’s heat in the earth’s atmosphere. Deforestation contributes to the effect.

The Trump administration scorned the rest of the world when it refused to commit this country to further reducing greenhouse gas emissions, although the United States is one of the biggest producers of this type of pollution.

This administration treats human-caused climate change as an unproven theory, in need of more research. Fringe "scientists" promoted by right-wing think tanks have replaced real scientists in formulating government policy. They provide cover for the energy industries’ drive for profits. What’s next? Weather forecasts based on intelligent design?

It was only a few years ago that public discussion of global warming became both prominent and strongly polarized. One group decided right away that scientists must be right and their most dire predictions taken seriously. The other group decided that most scientists were wrong, speaking from weak foundations and politically motivated.

However, most reasonable people quietly adopted a more thoughtful position somewhere in the middle, recognizing the power of scientific claims while also adopting a healthy skepticism for claims that are as yet unproven.

There is now no reasonable doubt that atmospheric pollution is causing global warming, and this warming is strong enough to have serious consequences in this very century.

Humans are responsible for global warming. Period. Many people, generally conservatives, still refuse to accept this, but the continually growing body of evidence is so compelling it should end all controversy about the causes.

The White House and Republicans in Congress ignore it, but global warming is taking place; a weapon of mass destruction such as modern civilization has never seen. This peril grows more dangerous each year, so where is our response?

Author's note: This is actually an updated version of a column I wrote for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph in April of 2006 -- when this country had a Republican administration that scoffed at climate change. Isn't it interesting how things have come full circle in just over 12 years with another Republican administration in charge? Read my original column here.

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