Lawmakers, voters should help reduce global warming

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A growing number of Americans are less worried about global warming and its effects compared to previous years, according to a Gallup poll released yesterday. At the same time, leading scientists are pressing lawmakers to draft legislation to cap greenhouse gas emissions and stop global warming.

Eight months before election period, the results of the poll will likely affect lawmakers’ decision to support legislation directed to curve greenhouse gas emissions, especially if they perceive voters’ interest to be waning.

This is bad news for the planet.

The direction the United States takes to reverse climate change is vital in directing the rest of the world as other countries seek to adopt climate legislation. The effects of climate change can already be seen virtually everywhere, and if governments don’t take action soon, devastation will be magnified.

The Gallup poll indicated that rising skepticism can be attributed to “publicity surrounding allegations of scientific fraud relating to global warming evidence, and, perhaps in some parts of the country, a reflection of the record-breaking snow and cold temperatures of this past winter.”

When evidence supporting human-made climate change is increasing and overwhelming, it is surprising to see disbelief among Americans is on the rise. This reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what global warming really is and an incredible ignorance of current events.

Research compiled by NASA state that global sea levels have been rising at double the rate they rose last century because of a decrease in mass in both the Greenland and Antarctic sheets and retreating glaciers in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska and Africa.

Even though solar output has declined in the 21st century, surface temperature of the planet has continued to increase. Ten of the warmest years since the 1880s were recorded in the last 12 years, the oceans being the biggest absorbers of heat.

Although the amount of rainfall has not decreased, the intensity of storms has, giving the soil less time to absorb the water and contributing to more run-off. Since 1950, the number of record high temperature events in the United States has been increasing, while the number of record low temperature events has been decreasing.

More details on the evidence supporting climate change can be found at climate.nasa.gov.

The issues of climate change are pressing enough that 2,000 leading U.S. economists and scientists agreed to send a letter to the Senate requiring immediate nationwide cuts in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions connected to human-made global warming.

“We call on our nation’s leaders to swiftly establish and implement policies to bring about deep reductions in heat-trapping emissions,” the letter said. “The strength of the science on climate change compels us to warn the nation about the growing risk of irreversible consequences as global average temperatures continue to increase.”

Scientists have been trying to convince an increasingly skeptic public after the hacked e-mail scandal and mistakes in a scientific report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which stated that the Himalayan glaciers would vanish by 2035.

The Himalayan glaciers are actually melting about as fast as other glaciers worldwide, and although the 2035 deadline turned out to be false, the melting of the glaciers will still have dire consequences. The bulk of the research is solid and incontrovertible, according to the letter.

“If anything, the climate problem is actually worse than reported earlier,” wrote Leon Lederman, director emeritus of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., and a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, in an individual statement to the Senate.

The fact is, rapid climate change will lead to dangerous ice melting, flooding, drought, extreme weather conditions, loss of biodiversity, environmental refugees, a rapid spread of famine and diseases and many other undesirable events.

American voters should not turn their back on the planet in times when it needs them the most. They should show their support to lawmakers who will be responsible enough to pass legislation directed to address the issues of climate change.

If the United States takes the lead, the world will follow. And this will be better news for the planet.

– Mayra Rivarola is a senior in mass communications and international studies.  Please send comments to opinion@spub.ksu.edu.

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