Just around the corner?

From the Boston Globe letters section:

Preemptive action on climate change

8/20/2003

LAST WEEK, as thousands of people were reported dead in France due to the overwhelming summer heat, power outages wreaked havoc on the East Coast of the United States due to increased summer energy demand, wildfires ripped hot.jpgthough the West, and soldiers in Iraq dealt with temperatures over 120 F, I wonder if the president on his ranch was considering the following: What if the temperatures this summer were even further elevated by climate change?

In late July, the administration announced a 10-year, $103 million plan to research climate change before taking any action. As a citizen, one must ask: What is the president doing now in the off chance that the overwhelming majority of published scientific literature providing evidence for climate change is actually true? The answer is nothing.

The reason for preemptive action on climate change is the same as a preemptive attack on terror: by the time either one strikes, there will already be thousands dead and billions of dollars lost. No scientific report will be necessary, only an investigation into what went wrong. We do not need another congressional investigation. The time for this administration to act is now, not in 10 years.

CALEB McCLENNEN
Somerville

It is not unusual to read views about the dangers of global warming and the need to implement policy change as a response. What struck me about this particular opinion is that the author has not only concluded that the Earth's temperatures are in fact rising, that the recent weather is evidence of this fact, and that this rise is caused by humanity, but also that the resulting disaster is just around the corner. For him, global warming is not an alarming trend that must be fought for the benefit of future generations, nor a far-away potential whose consequences necessitate a prudent eye. It is here and now. France's heat wave. Northeast power outages. Forest fires. We must 'act now' or else famine and blight shall be unleashed upon the heathens. Fire and brimstone dispatch next summer.

It must be nice to have such unfettered faith and certainty about the world.

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In DC this past winter, we

In DC this past winter, we had one of the worst snow seasons in several years. Perhaps, the next Ice Age is also around the corner.

Same in Boston. There was a

Same in Boston. There was a record snowfall and the winter was colder than even most native Bostonians remember.

Was Mr. McClennen's point

Was Mr. McClennen's point that the administration should support the McCain-Lieberman amendment, perhaps?

The amendment basically mimics the Kyoto protocol, at least its early stages (more to come later, no doubt). It would be a drag chute for the economy.

Still, as an example, I'm amazed by the progress automobile and motorcycle manufacturers have made in the face of gentle, gradual, progressive emissions standards. Car engines today are dozens or hundreds of times cleaner than they were a couple of decades ago.

Years ago, sportbikers and the moto press were whining about new "tough standards" that would severely restrict what the engines were able to do. But in response, the engines have become smoother, more powerful, more reliable, lighter, quieter, smaller, and cleaner. And, as Dennis Simanaitis reports in Road & Track, cars are so clean that *brake dust* is now being looked as a primary source of pollution.

I am kind of torn on this

I am kind of torn on this one.

Should the government regulate the safety and emissions standards for a vehicle since most of the interstates they are driven on are built by the govt?

Whack job, no doubt. Here in

Whack job, no doubt. Here in NYC we have been having one of the nicest summers I can remember in a long time (knock wood). We have had a few hot and humid days but nothing compared to what we usually get and we are more than half way through August.

It's all anecdotal evidence

It's all anecdotal evidence until worldwide averages can be studied and possible trends discovered. France is having "hot weather." Not a "hot climate."

Great picture in the post, by the way. That captures the armageddon of global warming that some folks seem to fear is, well, just around the corner.

Jonathan, It was great to

Jonathan,

It was great to read your reaction to my letter to the editor of the Boston Globe from this August. Unfortunately, I only recently came across your response! So, for whatever it is worth here is a clarification of my viewpoint, because it was misinterpreted:

The idea is this, instead of investing the $103 million of taxpayer?s dollars on continuing to research what has been the conclusion of the vast majority of published scientific reports to date, invest the money in trying to search for remedies to the input of carbon and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. (This, by the way is not debated in the science world, only the connection of increased 'greenhouse gasses' to global warming is...)

The evidence mentioned, wildfires, Frances heat waves, temperatures in Iraq and the blackout, were presented to show what could indeed be effects if global temperatures continued to rise and to ask the question how much more heat could we really take? As stated in my question, "What if the temperatures this summer were even further elevated by climate change?" How much worse would the heat wave etc. be?

If we are going to spend money on research, why not drive economic growth by researching technical solutions, instead of continuing to spend the money finding out what we already know, ?greenhouse? gasses are on the rise, input by existing human technologies, and this may have already led to or soon lead to an altered global climate. Either way, are cleaner cars and power plants really that bad of an idea?

Incidentally, your statement, "What struck me about this particular opinion is that the author has not only concluded that the Earth's temperatures are in fact rising, that the recent weather is evidence of this fact..." is completely without base. No where in my opinion did I make those conclusions. Please re-read the article and see that my main point was, "what if..." evidenced by the statement, "What if temperatures this summer were even further elevated by climate change."

Anyway, thanks for the inferno photo. I would love to hear more responses to this email. Especially ones where I am called a "whack job"?.

I hope to hear back!

Caleb