Chase Macquarie guest column: Action is needed on climate change
I was interested to read in Fred LaSor’s March 20 commentary he doesn’t disbelieve in man-made climate change; however, he then casts doubt on the science that has brought most of the world to conclude it’s a problem that requires urgent action.
While people who don’t “Walk the Talk” can be seen as hypocritical, the fact that Al Gore lives in a big house is irrelevant to the science of climate change. I agree scientists should re-examine theories to see if they hold up under scrutiny.
However, there comes a point in the scientific process when the overwhelming body of evidence supports a particular view – which is the current situation with climate change. For example: for many centuries humans believed the earth was flat and the sun revolved around the earth. Gradually as scientists gathered more data they came to understand the earth is a sphere and orbits the sun, and there’s no serious scientific dispute of these facts. And yet some people still believe the earth is flat.
There have been fluctuations in the earth’s temperature for millions of years and the temperature variations closely follow the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. The historical CO2 peaks in the past 450,000 years were around 300 ppm: the current level of CO2 in the atmosphere is more than 400 ppm – this is the difference between past fluctuations and the present cycle. Rigorous scientific study over the past 25 years has shown this unprecedented rise is due to human activity and in large part to the burning of fossil fuels.
To suggest scientists agree on this point because they are funded by government research grants is a good conspiracy theory, but doesn’t make sense. What have governments to gain by being told there’s a problem that needs urgent and serious action? They have plenty of other things to worry about — social unrest, wars, floods, droughts, famines, sea level rise, the next election — the last thing they need is to have to deal with another problem. On the other hand, the fossil fuel industry has a huge vested interest in not doing anything about climate change because reducing fossil fuel consumption would seriously disrupt its business models. It will be more than inconvenient! Is it just a coincidence many of the few scientists who claim the current climate warming isn’t caused by burning fossil fuels are funded by the fossil fuel industry or their front-foundations? Hmmm — does anyone else see a parallel to the tobacco industry denying smoking was harmful for 25 years when their own research showed it was?
Action is needed to reduce carbon emissions world-wide, and in December 2015, 195 countries signed the final accord of the IPCC climate conference and 186 countries made specific commitments to reduce their Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. Not only do 80 National Academies of Science recognize GHG emissions need to be reduced, but so does NASA, NOAA, the World Bank, the International Energy Agency, many businesses; and yes, even the U.S. Military – all of whom are smart enough to figure out there’s a problem on their own without being told to do so by the White House.
For those interested in the latest climate facts, you can visit the NASA website: http://climate.nasa.gov/ and for those interested in a way to encourage a reduction in fossil fuel consumption, visit the Citizens Climate Lobby website: http://www.citizensclimatelobby.org/.
Chas Macquarie is a civil engineer, outdoor enthusiast, and a resident of Carson City