Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Reality of Climate Change

Before starting this project, I’d always considered myself to be somewhat a crusader against global warming; I acknowledged it and was staunchly against it. The reality is that I, like most Americans, did not do nearly enough because I was largely uninformed. Prior to this year, all I had really done was make sure that all the light bulbs in our house were fluorescent. I still felt virtuous though; I saw Global Warming as a dim, distant, and somewhat inevitable circumstance and somehow thought that changing the light bulbs in my house was the only thing I could do.

However, as the incredible enormity of climate change becomes more and more evident to me, I’m also beginning to understand that there is so much we can change to really deal with this problem. I’ve made a few changes already; I don’t get plastic shopping bags anymore; if I know I’m going to be shopping I bring canvas bags. I also don’t drive, but this is more because I didn’t bring a car to Ithaca. However, these small changes aren’t going to be enough.

The biggest change that needs to happen is for the government to enact legislation to reduce CO2 emissions. The reality is that Global Warming is not simply scientific concern; the disastrous effects of climate change (as already seen with Hurricane Katrina and other similar natural disasters over the past few years) have a huge economic cost. So, if the United States government doesn’t deal with the problem now, we will have to deal with economic problems further down the line. One of the things I will be investigating over the next several weeks is why Congress has not passed legislation to prevent global warming, and how environmental advocates might work to get necessary legislation passed in the future.

In an October 11th speech at a climate change conference hosted by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy in San Francisco, Senator Diane Feinstein stated that, “Today, the vast majority of Americans agree that global warming is real – and that it is one of the most profound challenges of our time.” I’m not sure if this is necessarily true, but I believe it is imperative that we approach Global Warming from this perspective. Energy that was previously focused on convincing the American people of the reality of climate change needs to be shifted to taking immediate action. Therefore, another aspect of this project for me will be researching different ways that individuals can reduce their own carbon footprint and contribute to the reduction of worldwide CO2 emissions.

I’m excited to begin working with the Museum of the Earth on this climate change project. It will be an opportunity to educate myself and contribute to the community.

-Elena Moreno, Cornell University Student

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think it's interesting that Senator Feinstein referred to Global Warming as "one of the most profound challenges of our time". Too often it seems that people confuse time scales when thinking about the planet. When I talk with friends and family about Global Warming, they often refer to it as something in the distant future or as something imminent and unstoppable. The reason Global warming is so alarming is because we are seeing geologic time scale changes in the time span of human time scales. We cannot simply brush the topic aside and let our children deal with it.
Yet on the other side, not all is lost. Part of the reason that we research this topic is because we know that taking action now will alleviate some of the problems that are arising due to anthropogenic pollution.
In dealing with a lasting problem like this, we cannot deny its existence or be lax the duration of our solutions. Acting in a timely and sensible manner will allow us to deal with Global Warming effectively.

- Tyler

Lloyd said...

Mentioning the importance of government action highlights an issue that (hopefully) play an important role in the outcome of the next Presidential election. As we have been doing these blogs on individual candidates I have been browsing different frontrunning candidates' websites and the results have been somewhat startling. Many of the candidates merely brush past the "climate change" issue, presumably thinking that as long as they state their concurrence with the science, then they will receive that portion of the vote. Not to drop names but my hometown hero Rudy is conspicuously guilty of this. On the other hand there are a few candidates that dedicate huge portions of their websites and public speech time to environmental issues. Barack Obama has entire essays on his website regarding both climate change and energy independeence. This distinction seems to escape many of the candidates as they consider the "environmental issue" a single, uniform point. Hopefully, and maybe with some prodding, the candidates will become more aware of the true nature of these issues, and eventually bring that awareness to office in the form of legislation. We can only hope.

Lloyd