Climate change debate needs to expand

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Finally, near the end of the 2012 Presidential campaign, the issue of climate change was discussed in the media. Hurricane Sandy forced it into the news cycle, along with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s endorsement of President Obama.

I have to once again note that we need more discussion about the causes. The debate too often is consumed by temperature. We are polluting the atmosphere and no one should support polluting the air we put into our lungs or the protective layers that serve as our planet’s lungs – so to speak.

The political phrase is – ‘It’s the economy stupid.’ And we can add to that now – ‘It’s the pollution, stupid.’ We’ve got to raise the threat level on the chart for pollution – for our air, land and water. We’ve got to get more serious about reducing pollution – period.

The climate-change deniers love debating the temperature. They’re on the wrong side, but it doesn’t seem to matter to them. But pollution is not up for debate. It’s happening and if you put it in their backyard, the very people who deny climate change will scream at the top of their chemical-damaged lungs about their backyards.

It’s the pollution, stupid.

One thought on “Climate change debate needs to expand

  1. You’re of course right. A few more quick points:

    Since the 1800s we’ve known that greenhouse gases in our atmosphere make the planet warmer — a good thing since otherwise the Earth would be mostly frozen over. But in the 1890s a number of scientists pointed out that burning fossil fuel adds carbon to the carbon cycle, and CO2 is an important greenhouse gas. By the 1950s the risk of human-caused warming was well known among climate scientists, as a 1958 Bell Telephone Science Hour special mentioned, and that segment of the program is still worth watching: .

    In the mid-1960s a presidential report on air pollution from the National Academy of Sciences had a whole section on global warming. In the 1970s a minority of climate scientists were concerned that particulate pollutants could overwhelm global warming and push things the other way, but more research (and reduced pollution) indicated that particulates at most reduced the rate of warming.

    A few years ago a physicist named Richard Muller became a well-known climate change skeptic and darling of the fossil fuel industry. He was not a climate scientist and I gather his criticisms were mostly deemed irrelevant by those in the field, but he was a respected scientist, and he put together a team of a dozen scientists to create an independent historical temperature record that would correct for everything he had objected to in earlier studies. When the work was complete, and it showed the same pattern of rising temperatures as the studies he’d criticized, as Muller to his credit readily acknowledged.

    Muller and his team then proceeded to compare the temperature record with other relevant time series involving solar observations, geological activity, and so on. The only series that matched the observed warming was fossil fuel use. So Muller has gone from strongly doubting the global warming even exists to acknowledging that the only credible explanation for it is human use of fossil fuels.

    One more quick thing: I’ve heard people question why scientists use the term “climate change” as well as “global warming.” The reason is the global warming is the underlying problem, but the result isn’t just a somewhat higher average global temperature but a lot of other resulting climate changes as well, affecting rainfall, wind patterns, sea level, ocean salinity and pH (the last a direct result of CO2 from the air), etc.

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