Warming Climate More Deadly than 9/11/01 Terrorist Attack on World Trade Center
- Tuesday, 09 September 2003 by Michael T. Neuman, Madison, WI at:
Summary: The science is clear: global warming is underway, it poses a
grave threat to the environment, public health, the U.S. economy and the
world. As the threat of accelerating global warming continues to grow
more probable, Congress, the mass media and President Bush have still not
seen fit to place the issue of global warming where it belongs: on the
The death toll from record setting temperatures and high humidity over
much of Europe this year surpassed 15,000, which is more than 5 times the
number of people who died as a result of the terrorist bombing of the
World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The potential for even greater
losses of life in the future as a result of rising global temperatures
continues to grow, as rising greenhouse gases from the U.S. and the rest
of the world continue to accumulate in the atmosphere to higher and
Meanwhile, the mainstream media overwhelmingly continues to treat climate
change and its causes as a "science" story, detached from any political
or social context -- not worthy enough for front page or prime time
Scientists say the number of heat waves can be expected to increase
dramatically in the coming years of this century, they are expected to be
longer lasting and the heat intensity (highest temperature and humidity)
is likely to be more deadly.
They are likely to be right. There is nothing normal about the fact that
the 10 warmest years of last two millenniums have occurred in just the
last 13 years.
There is nothing normal about there having been 87 consecutive months (in
a row) where the global average temperature have been warmer than the
Finally, there is nothing normal about the humidity levels of the five
year period (from 1998 through 2002) in the Great Lakes region being the
highest on record at all weather station locations recording daily dew
Scientists attribute the higher temperatures to humans burning massive
amounts of oil, coal and natural gas (fossil fuels) for energy over the
past 100 - 150 years, which has caused the accumulation of billions of
tons of additional greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, other
gases), well exceeding the "natural" levels necessary for keeping the
earth's surface warm and hospitable to life.
As a result, the vast majority of the world's climate scientists now
predict the world's average temperatures will continue to rise, faster as
the century progresses, until the average global temperatures reaches a
reading in the range of 2.5 to 10.5 (Fahrenheit - F) above the present
average global temperatures by the end of the century.
Temperatures in the Midwest are predicted to rise even faster, reaching
temperatures 7.2 to 12.6 F in higher in winter and 3.6 to 14.4 F higher
in summer by the end of century.
These temperatures are also by no means normal -- neither is the rapid
accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (an increase of 33% in
carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere) that has occurred over the past
150 years due to increased fossil fuel burning by humans for energy
purposes. In fact, it took nature hundreds of millions of years to
produce the oil, coal and natural gas we burn to run our cars, fly our
airplanes and power our electric generating plants; yet our governmental
officials continue to avoid taking any actions of consequence that might
conceivably reduce the chance of more deadly heat waves occurring in the
future, such as the deadly heat wave of 2003, and the similar heat wave
that struck Illinois and Wisconsin in July 1995, taking 830 lives.
President Theodore Roosevelt once said: "It is incumbent on us here today
to so act throughout our lives as to leave our children a heritage for
which we will receive their blessings
and not their curses." A safe and stable climate is an essential
component of that heritage.
As President Bush is launching his initiative to continue to study the
causes and effects of climate change -- rather than (and more
importantly) taking concrete actions to bring about reductions of
greenhouse gas emissions from the United States -- the prospects for
leaving today's children a safe and stable climate grow increasingly
Already now, the world is beginning to have to face serious economic and
social effects that result from an increasingly erratic and changing
climate. Agriculture and forestry are currently suffering huge losses
from drought and fire.
Without major reductions in the quantities of fossil fuel burned today,
there is likely to be increasingly more widespread devastation from
global warming. Adding to the mounting amounts of greenhouse gases being
absorbed by the atmosphere is predicted to bring on global warming's
devastation all the sooner.
Yet there are still many things citizens, organizations, companies and
governments can do to slow the advance of increasingly more serious
global warming. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions would save most people
money anyway, in addition to preserving the U.S. economy and keeping the
air cleaner from needless burning of oil and coal.
Citizens might also consider purchasing fewer consumer goods and
purchasing primarily locally produced products to reduce energy required
for transport of goods. Reducing the amount of motorized travel a person
does and using vehicles for travel that emit the least amount of
greenhouse gases per mile traveled is probably the area where people can
reduce their load on the environment the most. Using less energy in the
home is way an individual or family can reduce their annual load of
greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.
Organizations and companies can be advocates for energy conservation in
everything they do; companies can: operate using the most efficient
technologies and practices possible, and government can adopt regulations
that prohibiting frivolous burning of fossil fuels (car racing, jet
skiing, recreational flying), and establish programs that provide
standards for doing business and that provide positive incentives for
individuals, organizations and companies to minimizing their reliance on
energy derived from the burning of fossil fuel.
On the federal level, the current Bush administration appears to be doing
all it can to stall any concerted effort to reduce greenhouse gases
emitted by the United States, despite the fact that the U.S. continues to
emits more tons of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere than any other
Upon first taking office in January 2001, President Bush abrogated the
previous administration's agreement with the rest of the developed world
on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by saying he wouldn't support the
Kyoto Protocol agreement. The agreement would have established annual
limits on the total amount of greenhouse gases the United States and
other developed countries would be legally allowed to emit.
More recently, the Bush administration has reversed a decision made by
the Clinton administration to regulate the amount of carbon dioxide from
motorized sources, primarily motorized transportation.
Passenger cars, pickup trucks and SUVs account for 20 percent of U.S.
carbon dioxide emissions; jet airplanes account for another 10 percent to
the U.S.'s total emissions from transportation. Motorized transportation
is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S.
economy, followed by industrial contributors, residential consumers and
commercial users of electricity and petroleum.
After almost three years of taking no action to control the emissions of
carbon dioxide from motorized sources and power plants, the Bush
administration is now claiming its doesn't have the authority to regulate
these sources under the broad authorities of the Clean Air Act.
As a result, the U.S. government is continuing with its "business as
usual", policies that increase greenhouse gas emissions, thus placing
every country, community, family and person in the world today at an
increasing level of risk from more killer waves and other catastrophic
"unintended" consequences resulting from too much burning of fossil fuels
for energy use in business, recreation, transportation and residential
It is a fact that experts in global warming science the world over are
now waving red flags and sounding alarm bells, in an almost unanimous
attempt to raise the public consciousness, media cooperation and
political will, particularly in the United States, so that major action
to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. begins to be taken
before the problem of global warming gets too far out of control. The
greenhouse gases that are emitted to the atmosphere today remain in the
atmosphere for decades and centuries; they don't cease to be a problem
once their emissions rates are lowered.
In conclusion, the science is clear: global warming is underway, it poses
a grave threat to the environment, public health and the economy;
meanwhile, some of those threats are already being realized throughout
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), including many of
the world's leading scientists, issued the most comprehensive report ever
on the issue of global warming in January 2001, just as President Bush
was taking office. Its finding are grim -- that the recent warming, most
of which has occurred within the last 25 years, is largely due to human
activity, and things will heat up much more rapidly as the new century
The IPCC forecasts are made assuming the absence of timely greenhouse gas
emission reductions. Without such reductions, predictions are becoming
more and more dire: devastating physical, biological, economic and human
impacts will occur throughout the planet, as soon as 2030, according to
Robert Hunter, Co founder of Greenpeace.
The time for action is now, and the responsibility falls upon every
person, community, state and country who cares about the future longevity
of the planet and its capabilities to sustain life. You can start by
telling your Senators to support Senators McCain and Lieberman and pass
the historic "Climate Stewardship Act" to address the problems of climate
change and air pollution and promote clean energy. We must begin to do
everything within our power to help solve this potential grave problem
for the entire human race. Scientists have already sounded the alarm
bells about global warming; we have a responsibility to not just listen,
but to make sure others are listening, and ultimately to reduce our
collective amount of fossil fuel burning to the minimal amount possible,
The alternative outcome will be what President Theodore Roosevelt
instructed us all to avoid: of having the children of the next generation
curse us, rather than bless us, because of the abhorrent shape we leave
the earth in for them.
Madison IMC: http://madison.indymedia.org/
by Michael T. Neuman
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