GUEST COMMENTARY: Recent studies show climate change should be major concern

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Mother Nature is speaking louder than the wealthiest and dirtiest fossil-fuel corporations on Earth, confirming what the largest and most respected bodies of scientists in the world have concluded: Global temperatures are quickly rising, and global warming is being found to impact long-term weather patterns. Two new studies build on or confirm the meticulous efforts of these climate scientists.

One study, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study — funded in part by the Charles G. Koch Foundation and headed by Berkeley physicist Richard Muller, who initially was a climate science skeptic — confirmed and validated the science Muller set out to disprove, instead, finding:

  • The warming studies and measurements were accurate and were carefully constructed and carried out.
  • There is almost certainly more than natural causes contributing.
  • There is strong correlation to anthropogenic, human-caused greenhouse-gas emissions. 

As a result of this study, Muller has since flipped his position, joining the scientific consensus of anthropogenic global warming.

The second study, just released by renowned, leading climate scientist James Hansen of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, connects weather events to the planet's warming. Other scientists in other studies show similar findings.  

Climate activist Bill McKibben, who recently wrote a Rolling Stone article, "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math," has been described by Time Magazine as "the planet’s best green journalist." He is the author of more than a dozen books, beginning with "The End of Nature" in 1989.

McKibben’s Rolling Stone article has gone viral, and it lays out three important numbers collected from numerous studies and data attempting to count global polluting fossil-fuel resources.

The first number is 2 degrees Celsius: the number of degrees of warming we cannot exceed and still hope for a reasonably livable planet. The second is 565 gigatons: the amount of coal or other polluting fossil fuels we can burn and stay below 2 degrees Celsius of warming. The third number is 2,795 gigatons: the amount of fossil fuels claimed and already "on the books" of the wealthiest energy corporations in the world and a few countries that basically operate like energy companies, such as Venezuela, which they intend to be sold to burn. Currently, we’re already at about 1 degree Celsius of warming — halfway to the upper limit of 2 degrees — and, at this level, we see extreme record-shattering change everywhere. Just think about the consequences if we burned more to reach the 565 gigatons allowed to stay just below the 2 degrees Celsius upper limit, much less if we burned the 2,795 gigatons the fossil-fuel kings insist we burn.

We must take more action. Locally, there are many ways to get involved. You’re invited to share your thoughts and ideas at a Peoples’ Visioning to address climate change and jobs without an enhanced enterprise zone and blight. Join your neighbors at 7 p.m. Monday at the Friends Room in the Columbia Public Library; there will be music and refreshments at 6:30 p.m. Find out more from the Columbia Climate Change Coalition.

Let’s do something about jobs and climate change — if not for one another, then for our children and grandchildren.

Monta Welch is founder and president of the Columbia Climate Change Coalition. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.

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mike mentor August 22, 2012 | 8:12 a.m.

When was the last day of our existence according to that Mayan thing? I forgot to stock up on my canned goods again???

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 22, 2012 | 9:19 a.m.

But I thought the US just had its lowest carbon emissions in the last 20 years...

(Report Comment)
Richard Saunders August 22, 2012 | 10:49 a.m.

Lies, opinions, and damn statistics?

Here's a nice rebuttal to the above. I'm sure there are plenty others, but a quick google brings this up.

Now, I'm not officially a "denier" (as ALL actions have consequences). But anything that's been politicized in an effort to create a UN global taxation authority? Well, that sets off my skepticism alarm, as I don't have any use for the combination of the legal and scientific efforts aimed at controlling others while stealing the funding to accomplish it.

Besides, if these models had any validity, the volcanoes would've turned the entire planet into a greenhouse by now. Until they can account for how these massive releases of carbon have failed to produce the results that they claim my car has, they're just plain silly.

As I stated above, this is all a drive to create a UN taxation mandate under the guise of public safety. Because as we all know, only bureaucrats in far-away ivory towers can save us from ourselves.

(Report Comment)
Cheyenne Greene August 24, 2012 | 1:36 p.m.

good post Richard -

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