MTN Editorial on 8 States' Lawsuit
- ---------- 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
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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