More on climate change

I was gratified to read Climate Change notes by Chuck Edelstein and Pete Kuntz. The subject needs more attention and discussion; I hope there may be a continuing dialogue.

There are many observations of climate change that can only be explained by the heat energy imbalance in planet Earth’s radiation. A direct result is the global warming shown in the global temperature measurements. Much of the increased heat absorption is also demonstrated in the melting of Arctic Ocean ice and our glaciers and polar ice caps.

And the high tide inundation of Miami Beach city streets and Pacific Islands can only be explained by expansion of warmer oceans, and fresh melt water from the glaciers and polar ice caps. And finally that extra atmospheric water and its evaporation energy from warmer oceans has to be precipitated somewhere, someplace!

But much of this information requires a dedicated study and I suspect there is tendency to ignore the problem. A convenient source of references is the web site of Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS/ climate change resources).

The driver of this heat energy imbalance is the atmospheric greenhouse effect, enhanced due to the human-caused increase in CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels. This environmental pollution is solid science, not debatable nor subject to impeachment, and is also easily accessed. Go to Greenhouse Effect on Google for Wikipedia or similar websites for fairly brief but reasonably complete explanations.

I suspect that reader activity is a bit skimpy. We have had excellent materials, as early as Atmosphere, Climate, and Change in 1995 by Crutzen (Nobel prize for Ozone) and Graedel.  There is the university textbook Global Warming, published in 2004 by John Houghton, and of course the Nobel prize journalist Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth in 2006 and Our Choice in 2009. (And it’s high time that understanding the climate science is more important than being a Republican).

There are also books available from Amazon by the climate experts James Hansen, Richard Alley, Michael Mann, Andrew Dessler, Katherine Hayhoe, Heidi Cullen, and the late Steven Schneider. And similar contributions from the journalists Bill McKibben, Mark Lynas, and Elizabeth Kolbert are extremely useful.

I suspect that our U.S. citizenry depend largely on television for information on this most important environmental danger of global warming and climate change. Unfortunately, this is monopolized by commercials from fossil fuel industries that wish to profit in the present “business as usual” environment and feel no responsibility to educate the audience on the dangers of polluting the atmosphere with CO2.

Consequently, ABC, CBS, and NBC have essentially ignored this subject and PBS is not much better. The Weather Channel occasionally gives climate change some attention; for example, the recent 6-part series “Tipping Points.” The CBS Showtime series, “Years of Living Dangerously,” had a limited broadcast series and will be available from Amazon in September. “Earth—The Operators’ Manual,” made possible by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with Penn State’s Prof. Richard Alley was finally aired late at night on PBS. This and the companion book by Alley may now also be obtained from Amazon.

Now I find the viewer-supported LinkTV channel is taking up the slack. See I discovered “Everything’s Cool,” a detailed  2007 90-minute summary of climate change environmental activity and fossil fuel lobbying that had escaped earlier attention, was recently broadcast on Link. A 2013 interview with Prof. Michael Mann of Penn State, Politics and Climate Change, is recently available on the Link channel and comments by Dr. James Hansen are on the Link website.

We have gone forth and multiplied, and our activities have unavoidably disturbed our natural environment. We have a responsibility to understand and take an active role in correcting our mistakes. And the problems are so great that we must all take positive action as a functioning democratic society in a leadership role in this effort.  Guest Editorial by Clyde Burnett


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