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November 28, 2012
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Guest Column: Global warming isn't the problem - it's our politicians

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - Ed Gurowitz recently wrote an article on global warming ("Climate change is not an opinion" - Nov. 8, 2012). His article was a political opinion that failed to inform.

Global warming is a process that began at the end of the last glacial period. About 11,000 years ago, the last ice age ended and the earth began to warm. Glaciers began melting with subsequent increased ocean depth.

There is ample geologic evidence for both global warming and global cooling during the earth's history. There have been at least 5 major ice ages and many advances and retreats of the ice pack. At times glaciers may have reached the equator, and there have probably been times when no ice whatsoever has been on the planet's surface. This is a cyclical process that has been going on for millions of years. Yes, currently, the earth is in a warming period.

Politicians generate a lot of fear about global warming, but they never mention the alternative. In reality, global warming is way better than the alternative, which is global cooling. The earth has never had perfect weather and static climate.

Global warming has been a boon to civilization. If the last ice age hadn't ended, it is possible humans would not have survived as a species. Much of the earth's habitable land has been made available by global warming.

Since 1998, the average earth temperature has fallen approximately 1 degree and is expected to decrease for up to 30 years. The temporary drop in global temperatures shows the inherent fallibility of those who try to pin each storm and disaster on global warming. The implication is that humans have no responsibility to prepare for storms that have been occurring for thousands of years.

It appears as if Mr. Gurowitz attempts to blame the Hurricane Katrina disaster on global warming. Politicians in New Orleans had fifty years to prepare the city for a class five hurricane. As a society, we would be better off considering the reasons a rich democracy failed its citizens over a period of fifty years rather than blaming climate change. It was corrupt politicians in Louisiana that caused the destruction of the city of New Orleans.

Mr. Gurowitz is apparently certain that human civilization is a "significant" contributor to global warming. If so, that contribution could only have taken place in the last 50 out of 11,000 years. If you had to put an average on what reputable scientists believe, it would be that humans contribute about 1 percent to global warming. This may be "significant," but is not necessarily where we should focus our efforts.

Carbon dioxide has been at the center of the climate change controversy. Those with an agenda to end the use of fossil fuels have gone so far as to have carbon dioxide labeled a pollutant. Further, politicians have attempted to regulate carbon dioxide emissions through the Kyoto treaty between 1997 and 2005. This focus on carbon dioxide has helped confuse the nation's energy policy. We as citizens are left holding the bag once again.

President George W. Bush correctly led a rejection of the Kyoto treaty by the USA. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Without carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, all complex life forms would die. It is a greenhouse gas, but, on the other hand, it contributes nearly nothing to global warming. The world's most important greenhouse gas is water vapor (humidity), which contributes more than a thousand times as much to global warming as carbon dioxide. All reputable scientists have accepted that managing carbon dioxide emissions will have no impact on global warming. The Kyoto treaty was merely an attempt to punish productive people and societies. Small wonder citizens reject political speak relative to global warming.

Importantly, our society could end global warming if we chose to do so. The volcanic activity of the prior decade shows one example of a way to stop global warming. Volcanoes inject sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere which acts as a sunscreen and cools the earth accordingly. It is possible for humans to build a similar injection device, and we could, in fact, manage global temperatures at very low cost. Devices have also been developed that use ocean wave motion to cool the ocean's surface temperature. This lowers the amount of water vapor and thus the amount of a truly impactful greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. A side benefit of this approach, is that it would also reduce the frequency and severity of hurricanes. As citizens, we should be demanding solutions like these, and not accept fear mongering and political speak.

Apparently, Ed Gurowitz thinks we didn't learn from Katrina. We learned. The problem is our politicians. Solving that problem may be far more difficult than dealing with global warming.

- Robin Fall is an Incline Village resident.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Nov 28, 2012 07:14PM Published Nov 28, 2012 07:13PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.