The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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February 23, 2014

Climate change is verifiable and threatening

I would like to respond to Mr. Bob Jentges “In Defense of Carbon Dioxide” opinion in the Feb. 15 Free Press. It is not carbon dioxide that needs defense. It is life that needs defending from excessive human generated carbon dioxide.

Climate change is no longer open for debate. It is fact. Since 1991 more than 97 percent of climate scientists agree that the climate is warming and that human generated CO2 emissions are the cause. And more recently that number has increased.

James Powell, distinguished Ph.D. appointed to the National Science Board by Ronald Reagan and again by George H.W. Bush, states that from November 2012 to December 2013, there were 2,258 peer reviewed climate articles by 9,136 authors. Only one author rejected man-made global warming. If we are to stand a chance, we have to acknowledge this. Now. Climate change denial has gone the way of the flat Earth society.

Almost every government in the world has agreed that we must limit global warming to less than 2 degress Celsius to sustain life as we know it, as agreed to in the Copenhagen Accord. We have already raised the temperature by 0.8 degrees, and it has caused more damage than predicted.

The oceans are 30 percent more acidic, one-third of the Arctic summer ice has vanished, and our atmosphere now contains 4 percent more moisture which contributes to the accelerated pace at which we are experiencing catastrophic floods, droughts, and other extreme weather.

Scientists estimate that we can put 565 gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere and still remain below the 2 degree threshold. NASA scientist and climate expert, James Hansen, says that if we stopped increasing CO2 levels right now, the global temperature would continue to rise another 0.8 degrees, which puts us dangerously close to the 2 degree mark.

And according to other scientists, this is overly optimistic. Some say that it is already too late. A team of financial analysts and environmentalists have estimated that proven coal, oil, and gas reserves of the fossil fuel companies are equal to about 2,795 gigatons of CO2 (5 times more than what we can afford to release). So the important numbers to remember are 2 degrees for survival, 565 gigatons CO2 budgeted, and 2,795 gigatons CO2 available.

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