MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md., May 6, 2014 – The Obama administration took the offensive today on climate change. Meeting with Al Rocker of NBC, President Obama stated unequivocally that climate change is showing its ugly head on many fronts throughout the world.
Some of his supporters say, about time.
His opponents immediately accused him of being alarmist and trying to scare the American public.
It is time that the American public learn what is coming if we don’t stop the indiscriminate use of fossil fuels. Recent polls have shown that only 36% of Americans believe the climate change phenomenon is important. The fact that the great majority of scientist believe this phenomenon to be crucial in our continuing enjoyment, and some would say survival, of the planet has gone ignored by most. Explanations tend to be highly scientific and full of caveats. This is logical since the processes that control the climate are in themselves very complex and overlaying climate change makes it more so.
Maybe what we need is a simple message.
Over the millions of years that there has been life on Earth, fantastically large amounts of carbon have been trapped below the surface. Starting in the second half of the XIX century, we have extracted fossil fuels to handle our energy needs. This extreme use of fossil fuels has liberated the carbon that had been sequestered underground to the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide, methane and other gases.
This carbon that is released has to have an effect on how our atmosphere regulates our weather. Empirical evidence, from the rise of sea levels and the melting of permanent ice, leads us to believe that this is the effect of the release of carbon to the atmosphere. Episodes of extreme weather are also the result of these releases.
In other words, continuing to release larger and larger amounts of carbon to the atmosphere will lead to dire consequences. These consequences would be in the form of rising sea levels, even more extreme weather and the possible destruction of many species in the planet.
Unfortunately, most Americans either don’t believe these consequences are important or dire enough or doubt the science or believe it is irrelevant.
The former don’t believe we would be able to stop using fossil fuels. After all, what is quality of life if one has to buy a distance challenged electric car or a hybrid (and have to pay more for the “privilege”)? The solution, some think, is worse than the problem.
Those who doubt the science or believe it is irrelevant grasp any apparent inconsistency, like a cold winter, to ridicule climate change. Others are convinced that it is God-will and that man should not interfere; therefore, the whole issue is irrelevant.
In a recent episode of “Years of Living Dangerously”, a person in Texas was asked the reason for losing her job in an agricultural business. The plant in which she worked had closed due to the draught that has affected that state. She responded that it had been the will of God. At no time did she associate climate or climate-cause to the drought.
The common thread here is the apathy that the public appears to have with regards to climate change. One could say that that their position is that “if it is real, there is very little we could do about it, so why worry.”
The fact is that there are things we can do about it. Renewable energy sources that are either carbon neutral or carbon-reducing do exist. Granted that many are in their infancy and don’t offer us immediate gratification. For example, research being done by the Navy to extract hydrogen from sea water at a cost below fossil fuels seems promising. Solar, wind and geothermal technologies are getting better.
Above all there is nuclear power. It is clean, carbon neutral or better, safe and affordable. Paranoia fueled by the news media and to be sure the fossil fuel industry has turned the American public against this perfect solution.
Yes, it will require sacrifices by all of us. We all have to make the commitment to pass on a better planet to our successors. So let us commit to reduce our carbon footprint and start looking at solutions, especially nuclear energy.
Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, wants to be remembered as caring for those that follow us in this ship called Earth. You can find him in Facebook (Mario Salazar), Google+ and Twitter (chibcharus).