Kudos go to The Times’ Viewpoint section on Sunday for at least asking whether global climate change should have been an election issue. Brickbats go to Amy Ridenour for dismissing the need to even discuss that vital issue, particularly in the wake of unprecedented wildfires and Hurricane Sandy.
But Ms. Ridenour goes considerably beyond merely dismissing the future of our planet; she characterizes the very issue of global warming as merely “a canard promoted by self-serving profiteers” (to quote your headline). It seems, then, that Ms. Ridenour considers global climate change to be, not merely incorrect, but fraudulent.
Ironically, just before reading your Viewpoint pieces, I had watched an authoritative program on public television focusing on a scientist who, for decades, has charted the shrinkage of glaciers all over our planet, not by computer models, but by actual measurements and photos.
Personally, the first time I saw Western Canada’s magnificent Athabasca Glacier was in 1956, when it came down to the Banff-Jasper Highway. Going back to that area every 10 years or so, I saw that glacier retreat steadily. On my last visit in 2006, 50 years after my first, it took a long walk to even reach the Athabasca Glacier. This is a trend in all glaciated areas.
While anecdotal evidence is not necessarily definitive, neither are the studies cited by Ms. Ridenour. Indeed, there have been seemingly endless studies of global climate change, and the vast majority of them have concluded that world temperatures are rising at unprecedented rates, that the polar icecaps are melting and that the temperate zones of the planet will turn into new tropics, while the present tropics may well become uninhabitable. The vast majority of studies and evidence make this a “clear and present danger.”
There is also widespread agreement that human activity, including industry, is a major causal factor in this potentially disastrous process. Meanwhile, as we are seeing most recently with Hurricane Sandy, weather-related disasters will become more frequent and ever-greater in scale and scope. We are in grave trouble.
If we do not hang together in dealing with this global warming, we will indeed surely hang separately. The need is great and the time is short. While scientists and citizens may debate the specifics, to state that the issue is not even worth debating is to be an ostrich with one’s head in the ever-warming sand.
Even worse, to blame the entire issue on attempts to profiteer or benefit from the global warming process is to do a cynical disservice to future generations, who will not have the luxury of ignoring what humanity has been doing to damage our only planet. That type of denial is not only wrong, it is truly shameful, and it will cost us very dearly.
Dr. Eugene Elander