Column: Answers to climate change are doable

2:58 PM, Jul. 10, 2013  |  Comments
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Do you believe apples fall down, not up? And do you think the Earth is round, not flat? If you answered yes to both questions, please read on.

With equal scientific certainty, we now know that carbon-based gases from burning fossil fuels are creating a sewer in the Earth's atmosphere that's causing a steady and perilous rise in the Earth's temperature. This fever is reflective of a "sick Earth" that badly needs our help. The only cure is to stop burning coal, oil and natural gas and to convert to solar, wind and hydrogen-based fuels.

If we don't do this, what does the future hold? Unfortunately, the future is now. How about storms like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy or mega-tornadoes in Joplin, Mo., and Moore, Okla.? Or extreme heat and record-setting temperatures in our desert southwest? Or wildfires in the western United States that are burning twice as many acres now as 40 years ago (leading to the recent deaths of 19 Arizona firefighters).

But there's more. Do you believe in God (the Creator)? Do you believe God made the heavens and the Earth and all life therein? If so, do you believe we have an obligation to care for the "life" that God created (evangelicals call this creation care)? As a professionally trained biologist, I react with alarm when I see human caused climate change models which predict the loss of up to 50 percent of all plant and animal species on Earth by 2100. This makes up a sixth major extinction on Earth, the worst yet. Is this any way to glorify God? I can't stand idly by and let this happen.

Birds are a specialty of mine. From 1990 to 2010, our state bird, the American robin, has started arriving 13 days earlier because of human caused climate change. This allows the birds to produce two or more broods each season. But human caused climate change doesn't affect all species the same. Currently, I coordinate the largest and most productive bluebird trail in North America -1,308 boxes with 36,000 bluebirds produced in 11 years. Last year we had the most productive season for bluebirds in our history. But this year, we are now experiencing our worst season. Bluebird production will drop by 40 percent this season due to the weather.

The survival of species depends on a predictable climate. Our climate is less and less predictable and this causes a drop in production of many species, especially long-distant, migrating birds. If we do nothing, the extinction crisis will worsen.

But something's being done. In the four-plus years since President Barack Obama has been in office, his administration has done the these things: 1) Set the highest fuel-efficiency standards for autos and trucks in U.S. history, 2) doubled energy generation from renewables like wind and solar, and 3) in 2012, U.S. energy sector carbon pollution, fell to its lowest level in 20 years.

But, more must be done. That's why Obama's recent presentation on human caused climate change was so important. His plans include:

? Reducing carbon pollution from power plants,

? Building a 21st Century transportation sector by producing fuel standards for heavy duty trucks, buses and vans and autos with auto fuel standards averaging 54.5 mph by 2025,

? Cutting energy waste in homes, businesses and factories,

? Reducing other greenhouse gas emissions such as hydroflurocarbons and methane,

? Preparing the U.S. for impacts of human caused climate change,

? Lead international efforts to address global human caused climate change.

But, Obama can do only so much through executive o. We need the U.S. Senate and Congress to pass legislation that will lead to the development of a "carbon tax" on all fossil fuels. This money will then be returned to taxpayers to compensate for the rising costs of heating and electricity. Economists agree that this plan will work to dramatically cut carbon emissions and make renewables cheaper.

Finally, there's the biggest myth being perpetuated about human caused climate change, that it's too expensive to make it practical. Climate and weather disasters in 2012, cost the American economy more than $100 billion! If this $100 billion had been directed at eliminating human caused climate change gases, it could pay big dividends in the future by reducing this $100 billion annual cost to taxpayers.

If we are going to maintain the integrity of human civilization on Earth, we must stop the steady climb of our Earth's temperature. This is the moral imperative for the human species. Let's get to work.

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

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