Global warm­ing and the threat it poses

The Taos News - - FAVOR Y CONTRA - By Norm Fer­gu­son

Ninety-seven per­cent of cli­mate sci­en­tists agree that global warm­ing is caused by hu­man be­hav­ior. The burn­ing of fos­sil fu­els such as oil, coal, nat­u­ral gas and other car­bon-based sub­stances in­creases the con­cen­tra­tion of car­bon diox­ide in the at­mos­phere.

And, this buildup is not al­low­ing heat en­ergy to es­cape from the at­mos­phere. As the at­mos­phere heats up, so does the earth.

Ev­i­dence of this is the rapid melt­ing of ice in the Arc­tic Ocean and Green­land. Since 1979, more than 20 per­cent of the po­lar ice cap has melted away. This melt­ing causes sea lev­els to rise. Many small is­lands in the oceans have al­ready been sub­merged by the ris­ing sea lev­els.

And, the rate at which ice is melt­ing and is­lands are be­ing sub­merged is be­com­ing more rapid. We need to cur­tail dras­ti­cally the re­lease of car­bon-based sub­stances into the at­mos­phere, and we don’t have much time in which to do it.

We al­ready have a so­lu­tion to this per­ilous prob­lem. It’s called so­lar en­ergy, and we know how to con­vert it into elec­tric­ity.

The drilling of oil and nat­u­ral gas wells should stop com­pletely. This also in­cludes frack­ing, a process that al­lows the ex­trac­tion of oil and nat­u­ral gas. Meth­ane is re­leased in the frack­ing process, and it is 25 times stronger than car­bon diox­ide in terms of trap­ping heat in the at­mos­phere. Frack­ing should also be com­pletely stopped.

Sadly, our coun­try and many oth­ers value money over hav­ing a clean and healthy en­vi­ron­ment. This at­ti­tude, if it is not changed, will lead ul­ti­mately to the de­struc­tion of all hu­man life on our planet.

Hu­mans are highly vis­ual an­i­mals: “see­ing is be­liev­ing”. But what we can’t see may, nev­er­the­less, turn out to be deadly for hu­mankind.

It’s too bad all the hy­dro­car­bons we are pump­ing into the at­mos­phere don’t change the sky from blue to or­ange or some other no­tice­able color. Then we’d prob­a­bly all agree that some­thing needed to be done im­me­di­ately. But, sadly, that won’t hap­pen.

We don’t have 100 years to solve this prob­lem. It re­quires im­me­di­ate ac­tion, but most hu­mans seem too caught up in their day-to-day ac­tiv­i­ties to no­tice. We may be the first an­i­mal species to cause its own ex­tinc­tion.

Norm Fer­gu­son is a re­tired teacher who lives in El Prado.

Edi­tor’s note: A coali­tion of fed­eral agen­cies on Fri­day (Nov.

23) re­leased the Fourth Na­tional Cli­mate As­sess­ment, which de­tails the ex­pected eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts of cli­mate change on dif­fer­ent re­gions of the United States. The re­port is at nca2018.glob­alchange.gov

The dif­fi­culty for New Mex­ico in mov­ing away from oil and gas is that nearly a third of the state’s bud­get re­lies on rev­enues from drilling and pro­duc­tion. The state must find new rev­enue sources to re­place those monies.

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