Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

February 23, 2014

If we caused global warming, we could help to mitigate it

It is surprising that after all of these years and compounding evidence that there continues to be people who deny that climate change is underway or, if they accept that climate change is a reality, deny mankind’s responsibility for it.

 It would be a waste of limited space arguing the indisputable fact that the earth is warming up as much as it would be to argue the issue for a round earth.

There is nothing that can be conveyed in a letter that will open such a locked mind as outright global change denial or release one’s intellectual curiosity from the bondage of ideology.

I will, however, address the more prudent issue of the causation — mankind or natural — of that warming.

 The carbon in the atmosphere was several thousands parts per million during the days of the dinosaurs. That carbon eventually became sequestered in the ground in the form of fossilized biological and plant material (today’s oil and coal, respectively).

During the Industrial Revolution we have been digging up that carbon and setting in on fire, releasing that carbon back into the atmosphere.

The “hockey stick graph,” created by years of solid scientific research into global temperature patterns, has shown that the rise in global temperatures is concurrent with mankind’s increasing release of those carbons into the atmosphere with the burning of fossil fuels.

 However, let’s say for the sake of argument that those who deny mankind’s responsibility for global warming are right and that the release of global warming gas into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels is completely unrelated to the building up of global warming gases in the atmosphere.

That’s akin to accepting that a patient’s blackened lungs, chronic bronchitis and emphysema has nothing to do with their inhaling burning tar from a two-pack a day smoking habit for the past 50 years.

Nonetheless, let us accept this conundrum just for the sake of argument.

Frankly, we are in a far better position if personal behavior — burning fossils — is to blame. It means we can do more to mitigate the problem.

So, if a person does not believe mankind is responsible for global warming, at least hope we are. However, either way we still have a world that is undergoing global warming. And arguing about whom or what is responsible is as much a waste of time as arguing with the doctor about whether the patient’s smoking was the cause of their lung diseases.

The reality still confronts us. And some major sacrifices in our behavior (how we live and produce our goods) will have to be undertaken.

Jason V. Francis

Clarksburg, Mass

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