Above it all there’s climate: A ‘down-to-earth’ talk

In “Unbreathable: Air Pollution Becomes a Major Global Killer” in the Dec. 20, 2012 issue of Time, article author Bryan Walsh tells it like it is.

He wrote: “Fortunately in the U.S. and other developed nations, urban air is for the most part cleaner than it was 30 or 40 years ago, thanks to regulations and new technologies like the catalytic converters that reduce automobile emissions. Governments are also pushing to make air cleaner. … It’s not perfect, but we’ve had much more success dealing with air pollution than climate change.” Regarding Walsh’s last comment, it isn’t too difficult to comprehend why that is.

Walsh is correct on all points. I also feel that as it has to do with consensus building over climate change/global warming matters, the final day of the Paris Climate Talks that came in mid-December 2015, was an historic moment, with around 195 nations pledging their support, the signed accord later formally ratified in 2016.

All looked quite promising until just recently.

As many people already know, as of Jun. 1, 2017, the United States under the current presidential administration has flip-flopped; now rejecting terms of the COP-21 (the 21st Conference of the Parties) climate treaty, after first having accepted them. And, if other nations were to follow America’s example? Consider what impact that would have. At any rate, it’s a safe bet that global warming/climate change being a divisive issue already could potentially become even more so.

A repeated maxim is such that 97 percent of the scientific community agrees that global warming is a reality and, most, if not all of the scientists that make up this 97 percent comport with the view that it is human activity driving the change in climate.

What is known for certain is atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is increasing. At over 400 parts per million concentration presently, that’s over 125 ppm higher, or more above levels during those of pre-industrial times. This is a fact – whether you agree with the overwhelming scientific view or not.

In (and above) the sea

Through chemical reaction with hydrogen in the world’s main water bodies (oceans, in other words), entering CO2 from the atmosphere combining with such is forming what is called “carbonic acid,” and because of an increased combining rate, the world’s seas are becoming more acidic and this is having a negative effect on certain sea life.

In the air, meanwhile, the increased CO2 amount as a greenhouse gas and with other GHGs as well, is what said “believers” say is responsible for planet warming. The non-believers to this will, obviously, say otherwise.

So, I would ask: Isn’t it safer to err on the side of caution and implement policies and take action to prevent further rise in global temperature or at least work toward trying to correct the damage already done? If not for the sake of the air, then in the interest of protecting the fragile sea life that’s already been affected?

I don’t know how many reading this read my previous post. In it I provided a link to the California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board’s events history (“Key Events in the History of Air Quality in California”) Web page. On that one will find the 17-plus-minute video titled: “Clearing California Skies,” copyrighted in 2008. Link here.

There is a part of the presentation if I recall correctly that shows how much sulfur dioxide (SO2), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), etc. pollution in California’s air has been reduced by between specified dates. There is another part of the same presentation that shows what the concentration in the air of a certain specified pollutant would likely have been by a specified date had no mitigating action been taken. That that would have been the case, well, let’s just say, thank goodness wiser heads prevailed.

I feel just as strongly that, even though carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gas emissions) cannot be seen in the atmosphere with the naked eye, that’s no excuse to ignore its existence. If anything, there is a compelling reason not to ignore such and I’m both confident and convinced 97 percent of scientists would agree.

Article information updated on June 7, 2017 at 10:54 p.m. and on June 8, 2017 at 3:49 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

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