Apparently it's family week here at The O.P.
:) After seeing
An Inconvenient Truth, my Dad, a long-time envirnomentalist, was moved to write six of our local and state representatives. I thought his letter was well-written, incredibly informative, persuasive, and overall a better product than that which I could have produced. I offer up a draft version here. I realize that it is long and that it's your choice to read it...but we are talking about the survival of our species here, and I strongly believe that it is our responsibility as members of the human race to inform ourselves of the issues surrounding global climate change and to take action whenever possible. I thought this letter should be available for more than just a few Tennessee senators to read.
I write this as a scientist (plant taxonomy and plant ecology) who is greatly concerned about one of the eminent threats facing us as a species (and most of the other species co-inhabiting the Earth) - global warming. It is time to look past all of the political maneuvering that has taken place pertaining to this problem. This is unquestionably not a problem that should be held hostage by politics. This is a problem which is clearly understood and conclusively and unanimously supported by all scientists who have knowledge of global warming (e.g., Stephen Hawking), its causes and effects. It is not something that will not go away if we decide to ignore it. The data strongly support its existence and its predicable devastating effects. There is no longer a question about the validity of global warming. It is a fact.
Essentially the entire scientific community associated with this subject has determined that significant, catastrophic things will happen (enormous global devastation, including major, destructive climatological change) if global warming is not addressed without delay. A few of the more obvious consequences include: floods; droughts and associated fires; larger, more devastating, and more numerous storms; and coastal immersion throughout the world that is expected to displace up to 100 million people in these areas. Less obvious ramifications are: increase of strife and warfare due to hunger caused by desertification of certain parts of the world; decline of species population and possible extinction; altering of forests, crop yields, and water supplies.
The U.S. and Australia are the only two large countries in the world that have not signed the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases. As an American, I am deeply ashamed of this fact. It shows either a clear ignorance, or a total lack of responsibility to the American people by those who made the decision not to participate. Neither is tolerable. If proper steps are not taken soon, my generation may not live to see the worst of the disaster that is sure to result, but my children certainly will. This is most certainly not acceptable; things can change; things must change!
If you are not currently well-informed about the subject, for the sake of your constituents, I implore you to become better educated about global warming. (This does not mean reading press releases which have been digested by biased writers (which, unfortunately, at this time seem to be overabundant.)) I think that Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth is a good starting point (and a vehicle to consolidate the issue). This movie is the best data-based information provider on the subject currently available, but has limitations in that it is only about an hour and one-half long. Much more can be gleaned from science-based periodicals and other (science-based) sources. If nothing else, please spend a few minutes of your time listening to a “Fresh Air” (with Terry Gross) interview with Tim Flannery, an Australian paleontologist, at NPR.org
Things that can be done to halt and reverse global warming include: promulgating a carbon tax; supporting the Fuel Economy Amendment; promoting and/or pouring support into the development of alternative energy sources (see Apollo Alliance) to begin quickly moving from using fossil fuels to using renewable fuels such as ethanol, wind, solar and geothermal; instituting tax incentives for citizens who demonstrate switches to “green” energy products (everything from purchasing hybrid cars, to building homes to a high standard of energy efficiency, to advocating the use of geothermal heating and cooling in residential and commercial construction, to the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs, to support for recycling); and promoting and/or supporting the purchase of energy-efficient vehicle fleets used by pubic agencies; ...anything and everything that would help reduce our country’s drastically high consumption of fossil fuels with its concomitant release of greenhouse gases into the earth’s atmosphere. Solving the global warming problem will also move this country toward energy independence, something we should have been working towards for many years.
This is not “rocket science”; it is only taking the control of these matters from those few who stand to gain (short-term) from leaving things status quo and giving that control to the vast majority of Americans (your constituency base) who would greatly benefit from such a shift and who unquestionably want this to happen. To continue along our current path is immoral and obscene. The massive use of energy and it associated tremendous pollution is already easily recognized as the basis for much of the friction between the U.S. and many other parts of the world. As stated above, reversing global warming would strongly move us towards energy independence, which would, obviously, dramatically help lessen tensions between the United States and much of the rest of the world.
Please do what is the morally right thing to do; put global warming on the top of your priority list and begin pushing for the steps that will bring about its alleviation before it’s too late. Thank you so much for your attention. If there is anything that I can do from this end, do not hesitate to contact me.
Thomas E. Heineke, PhD
Union of Concerned Scientists; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Natural Resources Defense Council; read: Tim Flannery - The Weather Makers: How Man is Changing the Climate and What it Means for Life on Earth (at least listen to the NPR interview alluded to in the body of the letter)
Mar‑22‑2006, Fresh Air from WHYY: 'Weather Makers Seeks to End Climate Debate.