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My Turn: Dear Republicans: Yes, the planet is warming

For the Monitor
Published: 9/9/2019 7:00:10 AM

Gov. Sununu, when you were a candidate, I believe you stated you were an engineer. It’s time that you and the rest of the Republican Party leadership got off the denier tactic that President Trump put the party on.

Trump got megabucks from the fossil fuel industry and he’s not very knowledgeable of science, but you should be with an MIT degree. Our planet is warming. That is not an opinion; it is a statement based on scientific studies, including the U.N. International Panel on Climate Change’s AR5 report and National Climate Assessment (NCA).

Meteorologists and climatologists worldwide make that assertion, as shown in the NCA, which makes the following statements: “Without more significant global greenhouse gas mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause substantial losses to infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century. ... The continued warming that is projected to occur without significant reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions is expected to cause substantial net damage to the U.S. economy, especially in the absence of increased adaptation efforts.”

Also, “in the Arctic, annual average temperatures have increased more than twice as fast as the global average, accompanied by thawing permafrost and loss of sea ice and glacier mass. Arctic-wide glacial and sea-ice loss is expected to continue; by mid-century, it is very likely that the Arctic will be nearly free of sea ice in late summer. Permafrost is expected to continue to thaw over the coming century as well, and the carbon dioxide and methane released from thawing permafrost has the potential to amplify human-induced warming, possibly significantly.”

The September issue of National Geographic also reports on warming in the Arctic. Melting of the tundra, frozen soil that hasn’t thawed in thousands of years, is releasing methane. A hole poked into the soil releases methane enough to be ignited and flare up. Methane is 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide in warming the atmosphere.

What the NCA, AR5 and Arctic reports mention but don’t scream is that there may a tipping point where sufficient methane and carbon dioxide (contaminants) in the atmosphere will be irreversible. That means that our world will continue warming as we humans will spend trillions trying to remove these contaminants.

The highest recorded levels of carbon dioxide have been the past few years (and that includes studies of Antarctic ice cores for the past 700,000 years). Already, our world has warmed enough so that the hottest five years on record have been the past five years, according the National Ocean and Atmosphere Administration.

Oceanographers have determined that the world ocean has warmed measurably, as shown by the recent hurricanes, which are the strongest on record. The years 2016 through 2019 are the longest sequence of consecutive years having category 5 hurricanes.

While the Republican Party has many global warming deniers, most of whom are not educated in Earth sciences, you, Gov. Sununu, are well enough educated to follow the science and note the validity of what I have written. If you are not frightened of our future, perhaps you need to read the NCA and AR5. Your grandchildren may suffer severely for your adherence to party propaganda.

I urge that the state begin taking steps to slow, and reverse, the carbon dioxide levels daily polluting our atmosphere. Discussing it in the House and Senate should begin ASAP. And bills brought before you to slow and reverse should not be vetoed. One place to start is consideration of installing fields of solar panels and tying them into the electric grid. More windmills would also help. Also, newest technology of nuclear power plants should be considered.

These steps should move forward with all due haste. Failure to accomplish reductions and eliminations of these pollutants could soon push the world past the tipping point and eliminate all life on planet Earth.

(Walter Carlson lives in Concord.)

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