The Norman Transcript

Columns

September 22, 2012

Climate questions needed during debates

NORMAN — This summer’s blistering heat, devastating drought, crop losses, wildfires and dwindling water sources have led to a realization that the climate crisis is a serious threat. We are experiencing effects of weather extremes that climate scientists predicted would happen as a result of fossil fuel emissions.

Many of us are still hurting. Yet there is no national political discussion. How can we make informed decisions without such dialogue? During the upcoming debates, moderators must ask President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney about this greatest challenge of our generation. Will they commit to reverse the current rise of CO2? How? We deserve concrete answers.

The irony is that the reality of human-caused climate change is no longer debated among serious climate watchers. The American Meteorological Society weighed in with a statement on Sept. 1, 2012:

“There is unequivocal evidence that Earth’s lower atmosphere, ocean and land surface are warming; sea level is rising; and snow cover, mountain glaciers and Arctic sea ice are shrinking. The dominant cause of the warming since the 1950s is human activities. .... The observed warming will be irreversible for many years into the future, and even larger temperature increases will occur as greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere. Avoiding this future warming will require a large and rapid reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions.

“The ongoing warming will increase risks and stresses to human societies, economies, ecosystems and wildlife through the 21st century and beyond, making it imperative that society respond to a changing climate ... National and international policy discussions should include consideration of the best ways to both adapt to and mitigate climate change ... Prudence dictates extreme care in accounting for our relationship with the only planet known to be capable of sustaining human life.”

We have evidence-based estimates to create a reasonable chance of avoiding the very worst impacts of climate change.

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