Friday, June 06, 2014
To the editor:
Of course the Earth is warming. It has been warming for 22,000 years ever since the last great Ice Age peaked. By 12,000 years ago the area where most of us are reading this newspaper melted out from under the ice sheet that covered northern North America. Global warming, that is, made our lives possible.
Remnants of that ice sheet remain in the glaciers of Montana, Canada and Alaska and in the Greenland and polar ice caps.
Global warming will continue to melt this ice no matter what political decisions we make in futile attempts to stop it. The Earth will likely continue to warm until the climate of Anchorage, Alaska, is again like that of San Diego, California, as it was eons ago.
Anything we are doing today, or have been doing for the past 200 years, cannot possibly have caused a natural process that began 22,000 years ago. Global warming is caused by geological forces within the Earth, and by radiation from the Sun and from space beyond our solar system.
But we do know, and have known for at least 40 years, that emissions from coal burning power plants do foul our atmosphere and intensify global warming.
Thus, President Obama is on the right track in seeking further limits on carbon dioxide emissions. But his efforts must be couched in terms of pollution we can see and correct, not in terms of very real but mostly nebulous global warming that will continue for many, many millennia.
Paul M. Craig