Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's Good For You -- Incidental Reasons to Support Global Warming Mitigation

I think there are a few points worth amplifying:

1) There is no doubt in the minds of any reputable climate scientist that CO2 in the atmosphere traps heat, and that methane traps about 20 times as much heat as CO2, and other pollutants trap heat up to 1000 times as effectively as CO2. There is doubt about how much the global average temperature will change, and how fast. But those disagreements are insignificant. Most, if not all, reputable climate scientists agree that the planet will warm significantly as an effect of pollutants released by humans.(http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090119210532.htm)

2) Based on historical records (ice sheet core samples, etc.) climate change can occur very suddenly -- too suddenly for humans and other species to adapt. Many estimates are that 50% of species could be extinct by the next century. It's happened before: "in the Earth's history several mass extinctions of 50–90% of species have accompanied global temperature changes of ≈5°C." (http://www.pnas.org/content/103/39/14288.full) Do you really want to stand by and watch as half the planet's plants and animals disappear forever? (Probably to be replaced by new ones...in a few tens of millions of years.)

3) The pollutants that cause climate change are toxic and expensive in many other ways: CO2 makes oceans more acidic, which leads to large-scale die-offs of coral reefs and other organisms; burning coal releases arsenic, mercury, selenium, radioactive isotopes, and a raft of other toxins into the air (http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/coalvswind/c02c.html), and ash piles leach them into groundwater and soil(http://www.earthjustice.org/news/press/007/coal-ash-pollution-contaminates-groundwater-increases-cancer-risks.html). Mining coal destroys vast landscapes and releases the same toxins into groundwater(http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080326201751.htm). Mining uranium for nuclear power destroys landscapes and poisons groundwater, too(http://www.environmentcolorado.org/news-releases/colorado-forest-project/colorado-forest-project--news/senate-passes-bill-to-protect-land-and-water-from-uranium-pollution); and nuclear reactors leave behind difficult and costly to manage toxic waste, waste that is a huge security risk. Oil and gas exploration and drilling destroy landscapes and groundwater, too, and drilling releases methane into the atmosphere, a heat-trapping gas 21 times more severe than CO2.(http://blog.cleanenergy.org/2009/12/10/false-solution-offshore-oil-drilling/) The cost for cleaning up all this pollution and treating the illnesses caused by it are paid by citizens, not the corporations who profit. And we are still left with diminished and declining ecosystems after energy companies move on.

besides, there are lots of cheaper, cleaner, sustainable ways to get energy: http://www.rmi.org/rmi/pid257
read more: http://cyclopsvuethinks.blogspot.com/search/label/Energy

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