Rachel Crandell Earth Day, April 22, 2001 
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In the 60s scientists increased their warnings, Congressional hearings were held, solar panels were installed on the White House as an example for the nation. Subsidies for alternative fossil fuels were strengthened. We were on a path, but under Reagan the solar panels were removed, the subsidies and initiatives canceled. "Two decades of delay ensued." (Amicus, Spring 2001 p.31). More recently the meetings in November at The Hague failed, and now our president has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol. Where are we now? The CO2 content is 33% higher than it was 100 years ago and rising daily. And our government is still stuck on trying to get by without curbing anything. We have been pushing for emissions trading, credits for forests in other countries that absorb CO2, investing in emissions reduction programs in foreign countries while taking little action at home and doing business as usual. The new energy policy doesn't talk about conservation at all. They have taken away half of the appropriations for alternative energy research and are pushing for more domestic development of fossil fuels, which will only increase CO2 emissions.

"The total release of carbon from burning coal and oil and gas is now about 6.5 billion tons annually. There is an additional release of carbon from the destruction of forests, about 1.6 billion tons annually. Of that sum about 3 to 4 billion tons accumulate in the atmosphere annually." (Amicus Spring 2001) p.31) That CO2 blanket causes rapid continuous warming of the earth. It causes changes in precipitation patterns. It causes migration of climatic zones at a rate of one to several kilometers per year. It causes the melting of glaciers. It causes an accelerated rise in sea level. It causes an increased range and frequency of climatic extremes including large storms. "These changes are not hypothetical. They are measurable now and accelerating." (p. 31) Can you remember when the summers were milder and the winters colder and snowier? When I ask friends in Central America or South America when is the rainy season, they invariably answer, "Well, it used to be that..."

"The potential for further warming... will take the world far beyond the range of reliable predictions." For example, "Just what are the implications of an Arctic Ocean that is consistently open in summer, no longer a cold, reflective white surface of ice, but a warm, black surface of open water, free to absorb the heat of a 24 hour summer sun through evaporation? Since the global climate is driven by the latent energy of water vapor, what will be the effects of a large new source of this energy entering at the polar extreme? At what point in the disruption of the global climatic system will the circulation of the oceans suddenly shift, altering the flow of the Gulf Stream, which now carries heat to northern Europe and keeps coasts ice-free in the north? What are the costs around the world to 6 billion people when continental centers become progressively arid and increasingly subject to climatic extremes?" (Amicus Journal, Spring 2001 p. 32) What will happen to islands and coastal cities when the sea level rises and floods them? What will happen to fertile lands that become so arid that they can no longer be our "bread baskets"?


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