We fiddle while the world warms

globalwarmgraphIt’s hard to believe there is any one on this planet not truly alarmed at our planet’s yearly warming, with huge glaciers melting, waters rising, islands submerging, weather systems changing, water supplies declining, droughts increasing, and, with the most advanced scientific observers saying, we may have passed the tipping point on our way to global disaster.

World leaders have converged on Paris and have a working outline how to address global warming while “leaders” in our Congress resist EPA efforts to restrain the outpouring of carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

“Climate change” is the term preferred by those who don’t get the science and believe somehow or other an unseen beneficent force will save the planet.

Comedian Robin Williams had a line in his stand-up act when the audience missed a joke. Williams would say, “Catch up!” We have some evidence that there are folk who never will.

The most sinister and deceitful participants in this crucial worldwide dialogue are the fossil fuel adherents, the oil and gas industry tools, and motor city defenders, resisting change to alternative energy sources, stifling the truth, busy buying politicians who put us all at risk, while recklessly flooding the air waves with false promises and assurances. They busy themselves publishing Disney fantasy claims, saying that coal can be clean, and that they are going to reduce carbon dioxide emissions – someday – if it doesn’t cost too much.

The average High School student knows that carbon dioxide is a gas unlike oxygen or nitrogen; that it’s not transparent to sun light, and that it blocks and traps infrared light rays when reflected back from the earth.

The trapping has a salutary effect when it warms the planet to an average temperature of about 57 degrees Fahrenheit. But we’re getting much more warmth than we need.

Scientist Jim Hansen cut his teeth on an early NASA project, studying Venus’ atmosphere, one orbit closer to the sun’s heat, where carbon dioxide is 96% of the planet’s atmosphere, causing surface temperatures of 876 degrees Fahrenheit.

After studying our planet, Jim told the US Senate in 1988 that, he was almost 100% sure that “global warming [was] affecting our planet.”

In the early 20th century, Sweden’s Svante Arrhenius found the consumption of fossil fuels caused warning but he didn’t anticipate how industrialization would accelerate the concentrations.

Charles David Keeling devised the means to measure carbon emission concentrations by volume. In 1959, carbon dioxide was 316 parts per million, by 1990, 354 parts per million, and it’s now about 400 parts per million. Measurements of carbon dioxide trapped in air bubbles from ice cores in Antarctica going back 800,000 years tell us that these levels are unprecedented. Some think these levels are already too high to avoid catastrophe.

When we turn on a flat screen, flip open a lap top, run a dishwasher, use any electricity, we are warming the planet because 70 percent of our electricity comes from burnt fossil fuels.

A gallon of gas to run a car is equivalent to 5 pounds of carbon.

You want proof of warming. Consider what’s most observable – the melting of the glaciers.

80% of Greenland is covered in ice, and the icebergs released to the North Sea are shrinking and the ice stream is slowing.

Seal hunters in Shismaref, Alaska used to drive snow mobiles across ice, now they are running into slush, when they hunt for seals, and take their boats, and chunks of their island have been washing away for years.

Netherland lies below sea level on land rescued from the North Sea or the Rhine. The Dutch have been giving land back reclaimed from the surrounding waters to save other land. They even have amphibious homes that will float with rising waters and resume their position on land when the waters recede.

Ground zero for global warming may be the water that is eating away at the Antarctic ice, melting it where it hits the oceans, and we are talking about 130 billion tons of ice every year for the past ten years.

We desperately need a dramatic paradigm shift on global warming from seeming indifference to active engagement.

In our age, human kind is almost entirely responsible for our planet warming dangerously.

The price of a worthy legacy for our grandchildren is that we all pay a price now that we tell our elected politicians to catch up with the facts and do the right thing for a change while we can still make a difference for the better.