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Letter: A global warming tipping point

I am continuing the discussion of global warming. Man-made global warming. Man-made, because humans are responsible for increasing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere worldwide.

CO2 emissions from the United States have been diminishing as coal-burning power plants have converted to natural gas (emitting about half as much CO2); we are back to our 1992 levels. However, worldwide CO2 emissions continue to rise as China, Japan and India build more coal-burning plants.

What could be the long-term effects? Matt Guzman, an economist and attorney, decided to investigate. In his book Overheated, he sets forth his investigation methodology (he read hundreds of peer-reviewed articles in meteorological and climatological journals, about 97 percent describing how the Earth is warming and how the emission of greenhouse gases is helping it warm; CO2 is a greenhouse gas, as is methane).

Guzman describes how about 11 of the hottest years on record have occurred since 1998, and that best estimates have put the resulting death toll at around 300,000 per year. By 2030, deaths from global warming could reach 500,000 per year, he states. He wonders if there could be a global warming tipping point, beyond which accelerated worldwide warming could lead to such catastrophes as shrinking water resources, slashed agricultural production, rising sea levels displacing millions along low-lying coasts, among other possibilities.

We are already seeing climate changes: Do you remember ever having so many 90-plus degree days in May or June? And with such high humidity? Guzman states, unequivocally that: “There is no serious dispute within the community of climate scientists . . . that man-made climate change is real.” He also states that past temperature rise predictions have underestimated what was later recorded. His book is available in the Concord Public Library.



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