Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

November 11, 2013

Global climate change biggest threat we face

In a recent opinion piece (“Climate change argument ice-capped,” Nov. 4 Times-News), Cal Thomas does the country a great disservice by arguing that climate change is nothing more than a “cultist” fad based on “emotional appeal.”

Cal then goes on to cite an article in a conservative British tabloid about “eminent scientists,” though gives no names, supporting his position.

He then tries to link yo-yos in Syria with what he calls “the junk science coming out of climate research.”

Cal then uses one anomaly — the return of sea ice in the Arctic this summer — as evidence that global warming is a hoax. Of course he fails to mention that the increase in sea ice, while significantly more than the record low of 2012, was still well below the long-term average.

Cal also ignores a salient point: climate scientists will quickly say that no single event can be attributed to climate change or lack thereof. Evidence for climate change must be viewed in terms of decades before it can be adequately evaluated.

For example: From “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” odds of an intensely hot summer were 1 in 100 (1951-1980), but 1 in 10 (1980-2010). The planet is heating up.

Cal also tells us that while scientists agree that CO2 levels are “elevated,” they don’t agree on whether that will cause rising temperatures.

Fact: the correlation between atmospheric CO2 levels and temperature has been documented for the last approximately 800,000 years.

Fact: since the beginning of the industrial revolution, CO2 and world temperature have risen dramatically and are still rising.

Over 98 percent of climate scientists say that global climate change is real and being exacerbated by the CO2 and methane we are pouring into the atmosphere. Our coal-fired power plants pour 2.4 billion tons of carbon into the air each year.

Sadly, my senator, Joe Manchin, has introduced a law that would make it OK to keep dumping this CO2, rather than eliminating it.

This summer, CO2 levels in the northern hemisphere reached 400 ppm for the first time in 3 million years, when oceans were up to 65 feet higher than today.

Cal’s article is dangerous because in suggesting climate change is a hoax, he is telling his readers not to worry about how much green house gas we pour into the atmosphere or the staggering costs we are already experiencing.

Last year extreme weather made worse by climate change cost $140 billion in crop damage, flood damage, etc. With the feds picking up most of the tab, that comes out to $1,100 on average per taxpayer.

According to the IPCC, Greenland and Antarctica combined are losing approximately 200 billion metric tons of ice annually. Estimates of sea rise range from .6 feet to 6 feet. The Army Corps of Engineers thinks planners should figure a high scenario of five feet.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, using only a 20-inch rise by 2070 estimates 150 million people in port cities and $35 trillion worth of property will be at risk. So far, low estimates have usually been far lower than reality.

Global climate change is the single greatest threat we face. The math is unassailable. And Cal Thomas, with junk journalism that would be laughed out of a college journalism class, would have us do nothing.

But “Here’s the single most important thing you need to know about the IPCC report: It’s not too late … we can limit warming from human-caused carbon pollution…if we act now. Bottom line: Our house is on fire (and) we need to start throwing buckets of water.” Michael Brune, Director, Sierra Club.

We better start throwing!

Craig Etchison

Fort Ashby, W.Va.

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