I just saw a television political ad paid by the American Petroleum Institute that encouraged voters to be “energy voters” – to vote for candidates that would encourage petroleum exploration and production. It brought to mind the issue that is not front and center during this presidential campaign – global climate change. I am a retired civil engineer and have tried to educate myself about this issue and I have to tell you it scares the crap out of me. I consider it to be the most critical issue we face today.
In spite of what you may hear from the climate change deniers funded by Exxon Mobile, the Koch Brothers, and their wealthy friends, global climate change is not a hoax. Petroleum producers such as Chevron, Shell, and British Petroleum accept that climate change is real and human caused. CO2 has been known to be a greenhouse gas since 1859. CO2 is at a higher level than earth has experienced over the last 450,000 years. The additional CO2 is from combustion as shown by chemical fingerprinting. This CO2 not only increases temperature but also is absorbed into the ocean where it is causing acidification. Organisms which require shells, such as plankton, will have increasing difficulty building these shells in the increasingly acidic environment. This could lead to collapse of the ocean food chain. Approximately 70 percent of our oxygen comes from phytoplankton in the ocean. A collapse of these organisms would have devastating effect on our viability. The other major source of our oxygen – forests – have also declined by 500,000 square miles since 1990. The arctic has been experiencing temperature increases over twice that of the temperate zone. The 7 million square miles of organic-rich permafrost in Siberia, Canada, and Alaska have begun rapid thawing. The anaerobic digestion of this thawing permafrost and the melting of ocean-bed methane hydrates in the Arctic Ocean are increasing the generation of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than CO2. If this process is not interrupted we could enter into runaway temperature rise that we are helpless to counteract.
Ninety-five percent or more of climate scientists who publish in peer-reviewed journals believe that climate change is real and caused by human activity. To me I cannot see why people in positions of responsibility and power who ignore the global climate change information available to them and fail to act to slow or interrupt this process are not considered criminals. The economic and physical harm that climate changes will have on the world’s citizens will be severe. The people who are leading the climate change denial movement are primarily rich old white men who apparently are not concerned about future generations. Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren are at special risk.
Please, please, insist that this issue be the primary topic in discussions with political candidates. Does it make sense to promote candidates who would encourage expansion or continuation of CO2-producing petroleum and other fossil fuel products? Time is of the essence. It has taken 200 years to create the current situation and will take time to stabilize and – hopefully – reverse the changes. Elect candidates who will responsibly and rationally act to correct this problem.
Charles W. Davis II
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