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Climate Change | January-March, 2017

CLIMATE CHANGE by Al Usack

January-March, 2017

To start off, it might be helpful to review a paper I wrote on global warming which was the Issue of the Quarter from July to September, 2014. The paper provides some explanation of why our earth is becoming warmer and some of the impact. And, although there are still a lot of global warming detractors, there is sufficient evidence to prove that it is real and probably will accelerate in the future. Also, the whole subject is very complex and many other factors are involved. For additional information, I would suggest that you search the net with particular attention to the relationship of climate change to the way we are using and abusing our resources of minerals, fuels, and water; the tremendous increase in the use of these resources due to population increases and to the rapid rise of living standards in many parts of the world; and the impact of political decisions.

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As the earth becomes warmer, the melting of glaciers in the Arctic and Antarctic regions will cause a sea rise (estimated to rise 6 – 16 inches by 2050) as well as a rise in ocean temperatures which could have a devastating effect on sea life that will in turn affect climate change. We are already seeing changes in precipitation patterns and having more severe weather episodes which are expected to exacerbate in the future.

What are major causes of global warming?

Most climate scientists agree that the causes are mainly man-made and that natural causes such as earthquakes or volcanoes have not been the major problem. Mostly it’s a matter of:

(1) Increased use of fossil fuels both in mining them (including fracking) and in burning them.

(2) Disposal of animal waste, especially from great increases in factory farming

(3) A tremendous increase in waste disposal as population grows and living styles become more energy and material dependent.

What can we as individuals do to solve problems related to climate change?

Looking at it from a broad perspective, we can make sure our politicians are on board and willing to introduce measures that might help. For example, here in Florida, we must protect our limited fresh water supplies by protecting the underground water aquifers from contamination by sea water and by industrial waste such a phosphate mining. Recent pressure to open up our land to fracking would be very dangerous because of the large amount of water needed, the possible effects of chemicals used in the water, and the impact of the process on stability of the underground support for our fresh water supply. We also need to make sure that there are incentives to produce and use solar and wind power and to find ways to protect our beaches and other lowland areas that may be affected by the rising sea level. None of this will be easy, but unless preventive measures are taken, we could have disastrous consequences.

As for individuals, there are numerous ways in which we can reduce our impact. The Union of Concerned Scientists published a book called: C00LER SMARTER, Practical Steps for Low Carbon Living which has many excellent suggestions (I have donated a copy of the book to our library). It points out that of the average American’s total carbon emissions, 28% come from transportation, 26% from, stuff you buy, 17% from home heating and cooling, 15% from other home energy use, and 14% from food. Home improvements to reduce fuel waste are particularly helpful but conversion to solar would be even better. Purchasing a car that uses less gasoline is probably best but there are ways in which you can reduce auto fuel use that also could help. Reducing the amount of meat you eat would help a lot and it would be a good idea to think about the energy used in manufacturing or the use of other stuff before purchasing it.

In addition, you can talk to your friends and neighbors about reducing carbon emissions and you can promote ways to reduce carbon emissions at your office, your church or public facilities that you go to frequently.

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Al Usack