Ill-timed Earth Day letter on climate change debunked
*Editor’s note: This op-ed was written in response to letters to the editor in the Summit Daily News, published in Frisco, Colorado. The newspaper frequently publishes letters by Hertzberg that are full of scientific inaccuracies and misleading statements.
By Howard Hallman and Brad Piehl
Sunday was April 22 was Earth Day. The Summit Daily celebrated by printing a full page feature spread about climate change denier Marty Hertzberg. Marty has anointed himself as a climate change expert, but in fact he spent much of this career doing mine safety work for the coal industry. Given his background and apparent lack of research experience it is hard to see him as a fair minded credible expert on global warming.
Much of what Marty states as fact is naïve and untrue. The earth’s temperature has increased dramatically over the past 50 years, by all reasonable accounts the direct result of rapid population growth and a significant increase in carbon dioxide emissions into Earth’s atmosphere.
Contrary to Marty’s assertion, small increases in any number of substances including carbon dioxide and fluorocarbon derivatives do have a large and long-term impact on weather. In fact, that’s how cloud seeding works; a relatively tiny quantity of substance is blown into the air triggering the formation of ice crystals and subsequent snowfall.
The global warming controversy in the United States is not really a public policy discussion; rather it is one more political straw man for those who seek to generate hate and divide us.
On one side we have the overwhelming majority of credible scientists around the world. Based on an extraordinary volume of research these experts say climate change is real and poses a significant threat to life as we know it. On the other side we have a political lobby led by the likes of Rush Limbaugh (a talking head who really can’t find much he doesn’t hate). These partisans are hellbent on taking us back to the Dark Ages; destroying the planet for the sake of greed and ideology run wild. It might be entertaining to watch were it not for the fact our very existence hangs in the balance.
There is no real debate, the truth is becoming abundantly clear, climate change will devastate the world economy through drought, flood, famine, and population displacement if we do not take bold steps to mitigate and adjust. There will be no winners; whether you believed in climate change or not, will not matter.
Around the world, other nations get it. Climate change is real, moving faster than projected, and definitely man-made. The Chinese are building new technology coal plants to dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions, save money, and further expand their economy; all this using American technology. Germany has become a world leader in reliance on solar energy. Is it really a coincidence that China and Germany are also among the most successful economies on the planet? It is not. They recognize that global warming is a clear threat to world stability, (as does the United States Department of Defense). China and Germany understand that moving into a new advanced energy economy costs money; and that the long-term payoff of doing so must be balanced against protecting existing jobs; but that developing new clean energy sources is absolutely necessary if they are to survive and prosper.
Locally we can see the impact of climate change on the health of our forest lands, our water supply, and our recreation economy. We as a community and a country must chose. We can acknowledge the existence of the 21st Century and set about competing with countries around the globe; or we can keep fighting about guns, gays, women’s bodies and religion; while the rest of the world kicks our economic butts (turning us into a third-world country). We can come together to solve our climate change challenge; or we can stick our heads in the sand like Marty and deny it really exists.
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming, Summit County news Tagged: | climate change, climate science, global warming, global warming deniers, Summit County Colorado, Summit Daily News