More insight on climate change

September 26, 2017

In discussing how wrong Geary Foertsch is in his comments in the Sept. 19 Gazette, let me first compare the climate change problem with just a few other critically important prior environmental problems. Smog in the Los Angeles valley was recognized as a serious health hazard in the 1940s. Over the next decades this led to catalytic converters and removal of lead from gasoline as abatement actions, and the smog decreased. Lead in paints causes brain damage. Asbestos and coal dust and cotton dust cause serious pulmonary diseases. Chemical polution (and tobacco chemicals) all lead to various other serious diseases including cancer. These are just a few examples of very important health problems caused by byproducts of human activity. There are only two reasons anyone might want to ignore these kinds of problems: (1) the idea that money and profits are more important than anything else, and (2) the idea that obstruction of any abatement of such problems is justified by some kind of political bias or ideological dogma. To the credit of human society, however, government regulation and private groups have worked over many decades to correct or otherwise deal with these problems.

I have spent many hours bringing myself reasonably up to date on the climate change problem, checking Foertsch's claims, as well as reviewing the history of other actions to deal with other environmental problems caused by human activity.

There is no question that instrument-based measures of CO2 and methane show that the concentrations of these greenhouse gases have been increasing rapidly in the last few decades. Since the world population of human beings and the number of cars and the consumption of energy will also expand even more in the future, I expect global warming and climate change to continue to get worse.

Many studies target the year 2100 AD for long-term extrapolations, but recent biological studies of ecosystems and recent observations of substantially greater extremes in storms and other freak weather characteristics suggest that many parts of the world will see more serious negative impacts in the next decade or, otherwise, much sooner than 2100 AD.

Given enough space, I could completely refute all of the 10 "scientific" points that Foertsch brought up in his comments, and I would have better-quality information, more relevant context, less dogma, no politics, and no confusion from corporate lobbying. Mr Foertsch wondered – at the end of his essay – about why the term "climate change" is being used instead of "global warming."

The reason is that the problem has now been realized to be more than just about global temperatures; it is about excessive rainfall, extreme droughts, higher than usual windspeeds, freak storms, greater humidity over warmer water, glacier retreats, slash-and-burn agriculture, continual arctic ice retreats observed from satellite images, and very large ice shelves breaking off from the antarctic.

Arthur E. Sowers


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