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Letter: US should act even if chance of climate effect still is uncertain

Depending on the study, the expert scientific consensus that climate change is real and caused by humans varies between 93 percent to 99.9 percent.

Consider the following facts. The National Academy of Sciences of every country in the world agrees with climate change being caused by the human production of greenhouse gases. A recent study was done reviewing all peer-reviewed papers mentioning climate change written from 2013-2014; 24,210 agreed that climate change was caused by humans. Only 5 rejected the idea.

Ever major scientific society in the world also agrees with this. A total of 195 nations of the earth signed onto the Paris Climate Agreement. Only Syria and Nicaragua did not sign. Now the U.S. is considering joining those elite two. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there is a 95 percent chance that climate change is real and human-caused.

Considering the monumental risks involved if we do not act, that certainly would seem convincing evidence to act. But what if the chance of it being real was only 50 percent, 25 percent or even 10 percent? With the risk of badly damaging life on earth as we know if for countless billions of people for many generations to come if we do not act, would even that 10 percent chance be enough to act?

Lets put it another way. Consider that you and your family were considering crossing a bridge with a 2,000-foot dropoff below. Now consider that 93-99 percent of experts said that the bridge would break if you tried to cross it and you would be hurled downward, probably to your death. Would you cross? Would you cross if there were only a 10 percent chance of this happening? It is a matter of risk assessment.

Now, considering the fact that we have clean energy alternatives available for almost the same price as fossil fuels, would it not be prudent to rapidly begin that conversion? Plans such as a carbon fee and dividend plan show us that we can actually grow the economy while curbing greenhouse gases.

Why not act? How much risk are we willing to take? The fate of the world may depend on our choices.

Vernon Dixon

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