CO2 Levels Still Rising;
By James Donahue
Carbon dioxide, the gas
blamed for global warming, is measured now at record-high levels in the atmosphere and nobody is saying that is a good thing.
But government leaders
in three of the worst industrial pollution nations, the United States, China
and India, seem unwilling to do anything
about it. Our factories, especially the coal-fired electric generating plants, are spewing more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere
with each passing day.
U.S. President George
W. Bush took office at a critical moment when industrial nations of the world were in the process of adopting an international
Kyoto clean air agreement that would have forced industry
to limit carbon dioxide emissions to certain levels. While many said the agreement was not perfect, they said it was a move
in the “right direction” to put the brakes on runaway global warming.
But Bush ignored the
Kyoto agreement. He said it was unfair to American industry
that had to compete in a world market. He also said he did not believe in global warming.
The actions by the Bush
Administration opened the door for both China and India
to also ignore the standards set at Kyoto, Japan.
Consequently, air pollution from all three countries is intensifying, lung problems are on the increase, and the world is
People in the northern
regions of the United States may find
it hard to believe the planet is heating because they have been enduring an unusually cold summer. But scientists say that
is caused by melting ice that is filling the North Atlantic with fresh water. This, in turn,
is slowing the Gulf Current which has a major effect on the weather in both the Northern American and Northern European continents.
Also storms are occurring
with extreme intensity. Does anybody remember a storm front producing as many as 800 tornadoes sweeping across the Midwest on a single weekend? It happened not once, but twice in 2004.
How often have we had
two major storms sweep Florida at the same time? It is happening
as I write these words.
Carbon dioxide, a by-product
from the burning of coal, gasoline and other fossil fuels, traps heat that would normally radiate into space. Global temperatures
increased by about 1 degree Fahrenheit during the 20th Century, and an international panel concludes that most
of the warming was caused by greenhouse gasses.
Panel on Climate Change warns that if unchecked, the planet’s atmospheric carbon dioxide levels could jump to as high
as 970 parts per million, causing global temperatures to rise from 2.7 to 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit by 2,100.
That may not sound like
much but consider the dramatic weather changes already occurring around the world after only a single degree of an increase.
Times that by up to 10 and imagine what the world will be like.
Noted physicist Stephen
Hawking, in a 1999 interview on Larry King Live, warned of a runaway world heating if we don’t get the greenhouse gas
problem under control.
of the earth has gone up and down in history, so one might argue that a recent warming was just a natural fluctuation,”
Hawking said. “But there is no question that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now far higher than it
has ever been in the past.
is produced when we burn coal, oil or gas. It is what is called a greenhouse gas. That is, it let’s in heat from the
sun, but makes it difficult for the heat to escape again. So the large amount of carbon dioxide now in the atmosphere will
inevitably cause global warming,” he said.
“How much warming
it will be, we don’t know. If it were only a few degrees, that would be serious, but we could adapt to it. But the danger
is the warming process might be unstable and run away. We could end up like Venus, covered in clouds and with the surface
temperature of 400 degrees.”
Hawking warned that “it
could be too late if we wait until the bad effects of warming become obvious. We need action now to reduce emission of carbon
dioxide. And that action must include the U.S.,
since you have by far, the highest emission per head.”
Hawking said that in
1999. That was five years ago. The problem has only gotten worse since that date. His warning still hangs there, like a hanged
man, slowly twisting in the wind. It cannot be ignored.