To the Editor:
It seems every summer another letter to the editor surfaces from our local climate science denier, full of misleading “facts” and once again claiming that “there is no climate emergency.” Invariably, he quotes well-known denier “experts” who have no background in climate science, who dispute the consensus view held by 98 percent of climate scientists, and he brings up the positive impacts of CO2 on agriculture due to photosynthesis. So let me once again set the record straight and simplify the issue.
We have known since the late 19th century that burning fossil fuels increases the CO2 in the atmosphere, and that doing so increases the heat-trapping thermal blanket that has created the climate that has allowed human civilization to flourish on Earth. We have measured the CO2 for decades, and we have measurements from ice cores that go back thousands of years, so we know that for the thousands of years that humanity has developed on this planet the atmospheric concentration of CO2 has been in the range of 260 ppm, until the Industrial Age. We are now close to 415 ppm. As predicted, the planet is warming, and we are starting to experience the consequences, with sea levels rising at the high end of the range the IPCC forecasted in 1990. Further, NASA satellite measurements tell us the CO2 in the upper atmosphere has a signature which betrays its source, that of fossil fuels. We also know that the natural climate cycle, caused by the position of the Earth in its orbit around the sun, would have us nominally cooling at present, which demonstrates that what we are experiencing is not natural but instead has overcome Mother Nature. So, yes, CO2 is good for agriculture. But too much of it is not good for agriculture, because it is hard to grow crops in an oven, and we are already recording temperatures on this planet that humankind has never experienced. So, yes, there definitely IS a climate emergency.
Our denier also states that “there is no need to go through the enormous cost of replacing fossil fuels with unreliable wind and solar power, a system that has not proved to work for modern civilization.” Here, once again, he is wrong. The rapidly declining cost of renewable energy has already demonstrated that fossil fuel-based energy is expensive and increasingly obsolete. Without federal subsidies, both direct and indirect, such as not having to bear the external costs they impose on us, fossil fuels would not be competitive today.
So yes, we have a climate emergency, but we need not fear the consequences of addressing it. If we use market mechanisms, we will hardly notice the transition, but will sure enjoy the faster acceleration and quieter rides offered by the lower cost electric cars in our future, along with the millions of jobs the transition to clean energy will create.
To the Editor: