Question: Is climate change real? If so, is it human-caused? If it is human-caused, what can and should the United States, in concert with other nations, be doing about it?
There is no doubt that climate change is taking place. Witness our current historic drought.
Eight hundred years ago, a decades-long western drought drove the Anasazi out of Mesa Verde and back to the wetter Rio Grande River Valley.
Palm trees once grew in the Antarctic, and the Sahara Desert was once a tropical jungle. At another time, the entire earth’s surface was covered in ice for more than 1 million years.
The question is: How much of our current warming trend is caused by human activity? The fact is that earth’s climate is impacted far more by solar maximums and minimums than anything humans have done in the history of the species.
More greenhouse gases are released by a single major volcanic eruption than humans have caused since the industrial revolution.
Remember the ‘70s when no less than Professor Carl Sagan led the scientific community in declaring that global cooling constituted an eminent danger?
It is the height of human arrogance to assume we can have an appreciable effect on the global climate. We may impact local problems like air quality in the Salt Lake Valley at certain times of the year, but even if we did everything the climate-change crowd wants, given the vast volume of earth’s atmosphere, we would barely have a discernible effect.
That is not to say that we shouldn’t try to drive less and abstain from burning fireplaces during inversions. That just makes sense. But to ruin our economy and destroy countless jobs in pursuit of something that will have little effect does not make sense. I’ll bet you have a different view, Alison.
Indeed I do have a different view, Steve, but it isn’t just my own opinion. Nearly 100 percent of scientists agree that climate change is accelerating dangerously, mostly generated by humans.
Yes, there have been periods during Earth’s long history of global warming and cooling, many of which have to do with the rise and fall of greenhouse gases.
These historic increases have been much more gradual, however. The warmest years globally have all occurred since 2005, with the top 10 being 2016, 2020, 2019, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2014, 2010, 2013 and 2005.
Today, humans are emitting greenhouse gasses at an exponentially higher rate than any previous increase in history.
That said, instead of arguing over the source or cause of climate change, maybe we can agree on the effects of climate change.
We are not only experiencing a severe drought in the American West; we’re seeing floods in Europe, along with unprecedented high temperatures in Russia, Finland, Montana and other normally cool and cold places.
With warmer temperatures, the polar ice caps melt and ocean levels rise, eroding coastlines and increasing damage from serious storms.
Are we willing to move the population in our coastal cities inland? Can we afford to move our population in the dry West to areas where there is more rainfall?
As you say, the Anasazi moved to the Rio Grande Valley centuries ago—but you’re talking about thousands of people, not the millions who live in the same areas today.
If there is anything we can possibly do (not that we’re in control of volcanoes and earthquakes) to avoid extinction, wouldn’t you consider trying?
Indeed I would. But the science is far from settled. So-called global warming experts claim that the chief cause of warming is the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. Current levels are about 390 parts per million. In the Ordovician period of the Paleozoic Era (about 450 million years ago), the Earth had an atmospheric CO2 concentration estimated at 4,400 parts per million (or 0.44 percent of the atmosphere).
According to three scientists writing in the Journal of Geophysical Research, despite that level of CO2 in those prehistoric periods, it snowed and glaciers formed.
The world is well on its way to addressing CO2 pollution. Sales of electric-powered cars are exploding. In less than 20 years, the internal combustion engine as means of powering automobiles will be gone. Even battery-powered semi-trucks are about to hit the road.
Just coming on the market are small, inexpensive, non-polluting, completely safe thorium-salt nuclear power generators that will make it possible for even small towns to generate their own clean electricity. Solar and wind power have proven viable.
Internal combustion engines and coal-fired power plants are the two largest sources of man-made greenhouse gasses. With both of them going away, the problem is taking care of itself, and it’s a free marketplace solution, not a $555 billion government program as proposed by the Biden Build Back Better bill, spending that will only increase inflation.
Do I believe global warming is real? Yes. Do I believe the government needs to spend hundreds of billions to stop it? No.
The planet is going to warm and cool no matter what we do. If the human component of the problem is already fixing itself via the marketplace, we just need to get out of the way and let that happen. Doing so will save us a ton of our tax money.
Steve, what about the jobs that will “go away” if you take away coal power plants, mining and distributing? Don’t you think people who work in the coal industry will need new jobs and training for them? They might work in other energy industries, like creating solar or wind farms. Incentives created by the government will be essential to grow those industries.
Similar programs are included for electric automobiles and trucking in Biden’s Build Back Better plan, as are jobs that build clean infrastructure.
You don’t acknowledge the threat to society that climate change creates. There is a clear link between climate change and a surge in slavery. When crop failures, drought, floods or fires wipe out homes and jobs, people migrate and are vulnerable to human trafficking, forced labor and other human rights abuses. This may impact the world economy by tens of trillions of dollars in the next 20-30 years.
Fortunately, the infrastructure bill now headed to President Biden’s desk includes $47 billion to help communities prepare for the new extremes in fires, floods, storms and droughts that scientists say are symptoms of climate change. These are band-aid measures, though, for the effects that are already upon us.
Steve, our world is populated with human beings—not the organisms that lived here during the Paleozoic era. Remember that climate change that occurred eons ago caused mass extinctions. Within 30 years, if earth’s temperature rises more than just a couple of degrees, the mass extinction that will occur will be our grandchildren. How short-sighted will we look to them if we fail to turn the effects of climate around now?