Climate Conversations: The road ahead

Clyde Burnett, Peak to Peak.  The first 100 days of the Trump administration and the Republican Congress is exceeding my warning of the consequences of the climate platforms of the political parties. I am puzzled that an influential segment of our electorate has ignored the dangers of our ongoing climate change. It’s a time of assessment and responsibility. I believe this environmental danger takes precedent over loyalty to any political party.

 


Question: Why worry now?

 
Answer: The record-breaking heat that made 2016 the hottest year ever recorded has continued into 2017. This is pushing the world into “truly uncharted territory” according to the World Meteorological Organization. We now face a more urgent schedule of global warming mitigation. A most dangerous consequence of the reversal of our uphill progress toward renewable energy sources is the accelerated approach toward climate tipping points.

 
Warming of the Arctic permafrost will expose large reservoirs of organic material to eventually produce greenhouse gases, and the methane clathrate in shallow ocean waters can be triggered by warming temperatures. The times are uncertain, but if we do not limit CO2 emissions, an early tipping point will release methane in amounts that will greatly increase the rate of energy trapping.

 
The reversal of Obama’s global and climate change mitigation policies is likely to do little to the expanding solar and wind industries.

 

 

However, the renewed support of coal and oil sends a damaging signal to our neighbors that we have abandoned any pretense of leadership in programs to protect our planet. The field is open for China to dominate the engineering and sustainable energy markets.

 
The sea level rise endangers our East Coast cities, and defense installations will also need earlier adaptations. Florida’s recognition of the damage of rising seas has already led to an expenditure of $400 million by Miami Beach for pumps. The increasing disastrous costs of floods, tornadoes, and wildfires must be given attention. FEMA support is tax money, and have you checked your homeowner’s insurance premiums lately? The economics of fossil fuel energy will continue to dominate climate mitigation with renewable energy in Sunny Florida.

 
Question: Doesn’t Science give a clear answer for government policy?

 
Answer: Science has not played an important role in decisions by the voters up to now. That may be about to change. The March for Science yielded a swarm of internet photos, but the television networks stayed with scheduled programs on Saturday, then flashed some video bits of the worldwide science unrest. Still, on Saturday night, C-span aired the 3-hour March for Science program from the Washington Mall that concentrated on scientists’ role in our societal progress in areas from technology to medicine.

 
CBS evening news recognized Earth Day with a clear description of the awful state of our society’s attitude toward the planet’s health.

 

The ground truth “Thin Ice” interview about Arctic climate was immediately followed by comments from the Heartland Institute.

 
I believe it’s time to remind you of the scientists’ 100-year old explanation of the precise facts of radiant energy that furnishes us the warning of dangerous human caused global warming from the atmospheric greenhouse effect. We have a responsibility to use this knowledge to correct and maintain the energy balance of our special home. We must avoid this looming atmospheric “tragedy of the commons”. It is critical that the electorate in our democracy accepts the responsibility to understand this danger and make an intelligent choice of leadership.  Reality check: there is no Planet B!

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