ECLECTIC RANT:Global warming is real and it could become irreversible

Ralph E. Stone
Saturday August 25, 2018 - 05:05:00 PM

Empirical evidence shows that global warming is real and is largely caused by man. This is not a theory; it is a fact. If someone tells you that this is not true, then they are lying or stupid or stand to make lots of money by ignoring it. By denying global warming, you have an excuse to do little or nothing about it. Global warming is no longer about science; it is now a political, economic, social debate. In other words, what do we do about global warming? 

It has long been known that humans impact our atmosphere severely and our unrelenting production of carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) increase the effects of the naturally occurring "greenhouse effect" that keeps our planet habitable. The more CO2 we pump into our atmosphere, the warmer the atmosphere gets. This is a scientific fact based on decades of scientific study. The main cause of the increase in global average temperatures in recent history is not because of any natural cycle -- although natural cycles do exist -- it is because of man. 

Earth is noticeably hotter, the weather stormier and more extreme. Polar regions have lost billions of tons of ice; sea levels have been raised by trillions of gallons of water. Far more wildfires rage. The world’s annual temperature has warmed nearly 1 degree (0.54 degrees Celsius). And the temperature in the U.S. has gone up even more — nearly 1.6 degrees. 

NASA satellites have shown three inches of sea level rise in just the past 25 years. With more than 70% of the Earth covered by oceans, a 3-inch increase means about 6,500 cubic-miles of extra water, enough to cover the entire U.S. with water about 9 inches deep. 

In California, for example, scientists predict that in less than 30 years, rising waters will flood about 30,000 homes along the state’s shoreline. This will have a major impact on real estate and housing with the real estate value of the threatened homes estimated to be $15 billion statewide. 

Under Donald Trump, the federal government is doing nothing. Trump has had a lot of things to say about global warming. He’s called it an urgent problem, and he’s called it a hoax. He’s said, the “concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” When he became president, his true intention became clear when he quickly signed an executive order rolling back key Obama-era limits on greenhouse gas emissions. And then he pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, signed by 176 countries and the European Union. 

With so much at stake, why is the Trump administration, and too many in Congress, not addressing climate change head on? It is no mystery to me. These so-called climate change deniers have made a self-interested political decision, rather than a scientific one. By denying climate change, they have an excuse to do little or nothing about it; they don't want to alienate their friends in the fossil fuel industry,  

It is not coincidental that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and 21 other Republicans, whose campaigns have collected more than $10 million in oil, gas and, coal money since 2012, sent a letter to the president urging him to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.  

Does the “public trust doctrine” apply to the federal government’s inaction on global warming, which holds the government responsible for managing natural resources, such as air, land and water, for the benefit of the people? The government officials have known for decades that oil, coal, and other fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide that heats the atmosphere, but have promoted mining and use of those fuels while temperatures reach historic levels. This is the contention of the plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States

For a frightening must read about climate change, see Losing Earth: The Decade we almost stopped climate change. A tragedy in two acts, by Nathaniel Rich; Photographs by George Steinmetz. 

One positive is California. California set a goal to reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The state hit its first target for cutting back on emissions four years ahead of schedule. Much of the state’s success in achieving its goal has come from its growing reliance on renewable energy. 

It is way past time for the Trump administration to develop and implement an action plan at the federal level. It is time to put public health and the environment ahead of corporate interests. Planet Earth is our home; we have no place to evacuate to if our home becomes uninhabitable.