Letter: Aggressive actions needed to avert impact of climate change



In his recent letter concerning climate debate, Rick Place conflates arguments about who first theorized that the Earth is round with the more important confirmation that it, in fact, is round. There has been no rational argument on the latter point since the days of Copernicus and Galileo. Much the same is true about the fact of climate change.

While there is still uncertainty on some details, such as whether temperatures have, or will, increase enough to trip irreversible climate reactions, there is no legitimate debate on the basic science of climate change. That arguments persist is primarily due to the misinformation disseminated by the fossil fuel industry over the past 50 years or more. ExxonMobil scientists understood the science in the early 1970s but that industry has spent hundreds of millions to lobby against climate action.

More than 95 percent of climate scientists agree that climate science is factually correct and our rising global temperatures and related impacts – e.g., storms of increasingly destructive intensity, vast wildfires and melting Arctic and glacial ice – are unquestionably the result of massive human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere since the early 1900s.

While our atmosphere is not boiling, as Mr. Place perhaps facetiously and hyperbolically suggests might be claimed by climate activists, the ocean is warming to historically high levels (as the oceans absorb 90 percent of the heat generated by global warming). This heat is bleaching (killing) coral reefs around the world and, shockingly, ocean waters near the southern tip of Florida reached 101°F last summer (sauna tub temperatures).

Unquestionably, citizens should be consulted on proposed actions to mitigate climate change, as Mr. Place urges. That is the essence of democracy. But there can be no reasonable question that aggressive action is needed on a broad scale locally, nationally and globally to avert far worse future impacts than we have seen so far.

Larry Kane, retired environmental attorney, Carmel