My Turn: Global warming is real

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 14, 2012

Enough is enough! I’ve been a registered Republican all my life, but I can’t stay quiet any longer. Global warming is a fact and human activity is a big part of the current warming. There is no debate or doubt amongst the scientific community. The scientific evidence is readily available online at NASA, NOAA, EPA, National Academy of Science, the IPCC Reports, etc. ad infinitum. Global warming and the many other environmental problems humanity faces are not a “liberal” agenda, the science is not partisan or ideological. Yet, somehow I find myself in 2012 watching debates where not one of the Republican candidates for president of the United States even acknowledges the facts. Instead they pander to a base that demands open denial of reality from its leaders, or else.
I’ve spent the better part of almost 20 years studying the science and reading the peer-reviewed work and can tell everyone that the evidence is unequivocal. In fact, the evidence is quite scary. Most people wouldn’t know this fact, though, because what was a scientific reality more than 20 years ago supported by volumes of evidence has been hijacked by an ideological minority funded primarily by the fossil fuel industry. They have employed the same tactics that the tobacco industry employed to create doubt about the link between cigarettes and cancer. The industry uses propaganda and pseudo scientific junk to confuse the public, funding denial web sites, lobbying Congress, and finding willing accomplices in pundits from the fringes of the far right. These are not climate scientists, but political operatives with ideological goals. Yet this is who otherwise intelligent people rely on for the scientific facts.
I don’t know when we went from being the nation that put a man on the moon, embraced science, and where Nixon, a Republican, helped create the EPA, to a nation that now openly mocks science, wants to abolish the EPA, and uses opinion polls to determine what’s true. I can’t say if it’s a failure of our educational system, genuine confusion, or just laziness on the part of many. What twilight zone episode must I be living in where a vitriolic talk show host like Rush Limbaugh carries the same weight and credibility about global warming science as Dr. James Hansen, a NASA physicist with more than 30 years of experience and research on the subject.
Even the media, in a misguided effort to appear “fair and balanced” is unwilling to point out that there is no real debate. To devote as much time to the vocal 1 percent of skeptics as the 99 percent of scientists who are in agreement creates the false sense that somehow there is a genuine disagreement amongst the scientists, when in fact there is almost unanimous consensus.
Scientists are not the enemy, and they certainly haven’t conjured up global warming as a hoax. Can you name any other scientific hoax? I didn’t think so. They are sounding the alarm bells, yet we keep hitting the snooze button. Deforestation, overfishing, soil erosion, air and water pollution, peak oil, water and food shortages, melting arctic, receding glaciers, ocean acidification, extreme weather, oil spills, etc. This is reality! The world population is 7 billion and projected to hit 9 billion by 2050, yet by all accounts the planet is already stretched beyond the capacity to support us. Our resources are being depleted at unsustainable rates and our environment degraded while we engage in political and ideological debates about free markets, contraception and tax breaks for oil companies.
It’s time that “we the people” look beyond our political and philosophical differences and start working together to avert the disasters that await us if we continue on this path doing nothing. What will future generations say about us and the planet we left them? We simply don’t have the luxury to wait for the politicians or public opinion, it is our moral obligation to humanity and future generations to put us on a sustainable path; to create a future powered with clean renewable sources of energy, with well managed and sustainable resource use, and with air and water that won’t make people sick.
As individuals, as a community, as a country, and as the planet’s stewards now is the time to address these difficult challenges. We can’t afford to deny facts, or plead ignorance, or indifference. Start today by learning what you can do to make a difference. Educate yourselves on the real facts. For heaven’s sake, stop making science and facts political; they’re not.
Paul Bardinas lives in Salisbury.