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MTN Editorial on 8 States' Lawsuit

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  • mtneuman@juno.com
    ... Global Warming Statistics Should Spur All Of Us To Do Our Fair Share The Capital Times :: EDITORIAL :: 9A Monday, August 2, 2004 Michael T. Neuman Global
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 3, 2004
      ---------- Forwarded Article ----------
      Global Warming Statistics Should Spur All Of Us To Do Our Fair Share The
      Capital Times :: EDITORIAL :: 9A Monday, August 2, 2004 Michael T.

      Global Warming Statistics Should Spur All Of Us To Do Our Fair Share
      The Capital Times :: EDITORIAL :: 9A
      Monday, August 2, 2004
      Michael T. Neuman

      There is every reason in the world to be concerned about global warming,
      and I believe we should applaud Wisconsin Attorney General Peg
      Lautenschlager for joining with seven other states and New York City in
      taking action against the five largest greenhouse gas polluters in the
      country. Global warming is bound to hurt populations in the largest
      cities of the world first because of the heat island effects of cities.
      Contrary to assertions by global warming skeptics, the global warming of
      the last few decades is actually a very recent phenomenon, and it is
      widely accepted in the scientific community as being human-caused. Except
      for the period from 1920 to 1940, temperatures over most of the last
      century and a half didn't rise much. (They rose one-half a degree
      Fahrenheit in the 1920s and 1930s, mostly as a result of increased solar
      activity.) It has only been in the years since 1980 that temperatures
      started to climb more rapidly, shooting up a full degree from 1980 to
      2000 using a 10-year-average. During this same period, solar activity
      actually declined.

      Virtually all global climate scientists agree the last 20 years of
      increasing globally averaged temperatures cannot be explained by
      "natural" phenomena like increased solar activity or volcanoes. That
      leaves rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere -- which
      are known to be caused by burning oil, coal and natural gas -- as the
      only remaining possible cause.

      Contrary to popular belief, there are tremendous effects on our
      atmosphere associated with burning these fuels. Consider the fact that,
      for every gallon of gasoline, diesel fuel or jet fuel that is burned in
      motorized transportation, about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide are emitted
      to the atmosphere -- where it remains for 50 to 200 years, on average.

      Consider also that each ton of coal burned in power plants or other
      furnaces adds 7,320 more pounds of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere; and
      that each therm of natural gas burned in furnaces or appliances adds11
      pounds of carbon dioxide. That means the United States alone adds
      hundreds of millions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each
      year. These volumes build up into a thicker and thicker layer around
      Earth, increasing that layer's potential to capture and hold more radiant
      heat originating from the sun. This is the reason why Earth's
      temperatures have continued to rise over the last 20 to 25 years.

      The United States is estimated to contribute a full 25 percent of the
      world's greenhouse gases to the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, yet
      it continues to do virtually nothing to reduce those emissions. If only
      for our own sake, the United States should be investing in more energy
      efficient technology and phasing out inefficient coal burning, such as
      that done by the power companies subject to Lautenschlager's lawsuit.

      * But that is only the tip of the iceberg of what needs to be done. There
      should be a much more concerted effort right now to conserve energy in
      everything we do as individuals. We should curb frivolous burning of
      fossil fuels, thus limiting emissions. Unless we start doing that here
      and now, we risk saddling future generations and ourselves later in life
      with an environment that is much less hospitable than the one we're used

      Michael Neuman is a member of the Preserve Our Climate Coalition.


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