The Norman Transcript

Opinion

December 15, 2012

Avoiding the climate cliff:lessons from films of the season

NORMAN — In “The Dust Bowl,” Ken Burns documented the greatest man-made ecological disaster in U.S. history. The stories of those who lived through it as children lend particular poignancy to the folly of plowing under the prairie sod for unsustainable fields of wheat. Flash forward to 2012, as we witness first hand, similar devastation, but this time on a global scale. In “Chasing Ice,” James Balog captured the power of our warming planet via time lapse photography of glacial melting; entire landscapes have disappeared in as little as three years. Nova’s “Inside the Megastorm” uses the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy to illustrate how the effects of rising sea levels and temperatures intensify natural disasters.

Why should taxpayers foot the bill for environmental disasters that are increasingly exacerbated by the burning of fossil fuels? Particularly while the oil and gas industries reap huge profits and billions in government subsidies? The estimated costs of Sandy alone are in the tens of billions, a price tag that doesn’t include the human health costs and loss of life.

The World Bank’s alert, “Turn down the heat: why a 4°C warmer world must be avoided,” reports that the most pessimistic climate change models have been the most accurate in predicting recent temperature rise. We are fast approaching the tipping point, when we will not be able to control the rate of warming. Then, tropical forests, peat bogs, permafrost and the oceans will stop absorbing carbon and start to release it. To avoid this climate cliff, we must reduce global CO2 emissions by 6 percent annually (Hansen et al. 2012). We need to act now.

The science is clear. The math is simple. We know what we need to do. Economists across the political spectrum agree that the price of carbon fuels fails to reflect the real cost to taxpayers of burning these resources. Putting a price on CO2 emissions is the most efficient way to reduce warming and spur production of sustainable forms of energy. Even some energy companies (BP, Shell and Exxon Mobil) agree.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Noting a life well lived

    James Garner never intended to be a movie and television star. He just kind of lucked into it, he would tell those who asked. If you have the itch to act, get a good-paying job and spend your free time at your local community theater, he ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Recount that really matters

    Americans have been hearing a lot about Congressional elections, but there’s another one halfway around the globe that will matter far more....

    July 22, 2014

  • Runoffs get no respect

    The Aug. 26 Republican runoff election for the Cleveland County District 3 commissioner post is one of only 18 races on ballots around the state. Only two races are statewide — the Democrat contests for U.S. Senator nominee and state ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Change some lines

    Editor, The Transcript: Looking at how our elected Republican friends are reacting to the refugee children crossing the border and now being housed in Lawton, I have a suggestion. Let’s edit the Christian Bible in several places to reflect ...

    July 21, 2014

  • New health care system demonized

    To the Editor: In October 2013, soon after we were asked to take over management responsibilities at our family business, we were visited by the company’s health insurance agent. She explained that a decision needed to be made regarding ...

    July 21, 2014

  • Norman Forward builds momentum

    The quiet campaign to build momentum for a citywide public works project is beginning to attract some attention....

    July 20, 2014

  • The longer the wait, the higher the cost

    Editor, The Transcript: Thanks for the great article of July 3 on the Norman chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby group that recently went to D.C. as citizen lobbyists, working to get a revenue-neutral carbon pollution fee, refunded in ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Tax those trees out of here

    I read your editorial “Pesky red cedars” in the Norman Transcript of Tuesday, July 15, 2014. I have attended two meetings where the problem of the eastern red cedar trees was discussed. Because of the drought conditions in Oklahoma, we ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Make gun safety a health issue

    Quick, are you more likely to die by a bullet or in a car crash? Common sense would seem to suggest the latter. Cars are everywhere. We are an auto-obsessed nation. To be American is to drive — everywhere. Teenagers itch to get behind the ...

    July 20, 2014

  • They just want to be free ... maybe

    Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region, rattled many cages this month when he announced in parliament that the KRG would be moving ahead soon on a referendum on independence from Iraq. If Kurdistan goes ahead ...

    July 20, 2014