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Archive for June, 2011

The National Academy of Science and the American Association for the Advancement of Science are two of the most respected scientific organizations in the country.  These people are the experts and both organizations have released statements urging action to stop the release of greenhouse gases. They say the risks of inaction will be significant to life and wealth.  Heat, atmospheric instability and increased atmospheric moisture are creating conditions for droughts and forest fires, torrential rain events, melting glaciers and rising sea levels that could flood parts of Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami in this century.

So what does it mean when our political leaders release statements either reversing previous positions on global warming or stating new positions of disbelief?  Are they asking us to disregard the advice of our most respected scientists?  Should we believe predictions about climate change from people who have devoted their careers to science or people who have devoted their careers to public service?

Do carbon dioxide and methane molecules hold heat?  I have yet to hear or read anyone say they don’t.  Even the politicians won’t deny this.  Are we increasing the amount of these molecules in the atmosphere?  The International Energy Agency just released estimates of 2010 global carbon dioxide emissions: 30.6 billion tonnes.  This was the largest ever single year increase in CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels.  Carbon dioxide is entering the atmosphere at a faster rate than world economies are recovering from recession.

Should a plan to address global warming be part of the national discussion?  Or should we disregard the advice from the peer-reviewed experts at NAS and AAAS?

In the June, 2011 issue of Solar Today Magazine, Chuck Kutscher, past chair of the American Solar Energy Association, argues that global warming is the most urgent reason for moving rapidly to renewable energy.  It is more urgent than any jobs that might be created and more important than energy security.  “If we don’t openly accept the problem of climate change, we won’t deploy clean energy in the fastest and most efficient way needed to address it,” says Kutscher.

Watch the video lecture below where Mr. Kutscher explains how arguments against global warming do not look at the whole picture.  For example, some GW deniers say that some glaciers are actually expanding while others are retreating.  Kutscher says it’s true that a few glaciers are expanding.  But these glaciers are thinner.  He says the real test is whether glaciers are losing mass and they all are.  At the present rate, all glaciers will be gone from Glacier National Park in Montana by 2025.  A new study also attributes the thinning snow pack in the Rocky Mountains to global warming.  Over 70 million people in the western US depend on water from the rivers fed by this snow pack.  “It is a scientific fact that by suddenly releasing into the atmosphere carbon that nature took millions of years to sequester in the earth, we are dangerously and dramatically changing our planet,” Kutscher emphasizes.

Chuck Kutscher lecture on global warming (1 hr)

Loss of plant and animal species will also be part of changing climate conditions.  The warmer oceans are creating problems for animals such as the polar bears.  They depend on sea ice to hunt seals, breed and sometimes den.  But the water in the Arctic is warming rapidly and the bears habitat is melting out from under them.  However, it is also true that some species will increase their populations as ocean warming continues.  The temperature in the Atlantic Ocean is now much more hospitable for jellyfish.  This can be easily verified on your next trip to the beach.

Stockvault - Jellyfish

Sam Kendall

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