OPINION: U.S. Senate says climate change is real … but it isn’t our fault

Well now, isn’t that interesting? Seems most of the US Senate believes climate change is real but only about half of them believe humans have anything to do with it.

I was fortunate many years ago to work for and under one of the brightest ecologists out there. Dr. Ted Hagmeier was a zoogeographer who studied the post glacial migration of animals in North America. He produced some excellent work showing how human, plants, and animals have followed the Laurentide Glacier as it retreated north over the last 10,000 -15,000 years. He and others predicted the end of the glacial period would result in the opening of the Arctic Ocean, rising ocean waters, a warming climate and a new period of geological activity cause by the emergence of the land being released of the overlying weight of ice.

He wasn’t totally correct. He believed it would be well into the future. The shame is that Ted is not around to see his predictions come true so soon. So how is it that this glacial cycle has accelerated? Some believe that man’s activities … forest destruction, air pollution, jet travel, fossil fuels, oil and gas explorations, burnoffs, etc, etc … have resulted in an acceleration of this period. Others don’t buy into the involvement of humankind at all.

Well it matters little I think.

1. Climate Change. So now with the US Senate officially recognizing climate change, it must be real … climate change (ie. global warming) is indeed happening. Finally an illustrious group of intellectuals have confirmed the obvious.

I sincerely doubt that even those who are well informed can foresee the actual extent of the problems that will arise. You are seeing the beginning of water wars, mass migrations, tribal wars, shifts in ocean and terrestrial ecology that will accelerate over the next few years, dislocations from water rise, increased floods, droughts, intensely destructive storms and increasing violence even within communities. The globe is busy changing.

So what can we do? It’s simple really. We can do the best we can. And our history on this planet shows that we can adapt. We will need to move our developments to higher ground, relocate existing coastal infrastructure, prepare for climate change immigrants who may even be hostile, watch closely the change in plant growth and begin the process of adapting to a new reality that will require us to depend more and more on ourselves and our communities for food, energy and security. It may even be that we will have to change our governance to suit the times. But one thing is for certain. We cannot change the direction now so we must act now if we wish to avoid the very worst consequences.

2. Humans and Climate change. Does it really matter whether we are partly responsible or not?

“The chairman of the environment committee, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., is an enthusiastic denier of climate change, saying it is the ‘biggest hoax’ perpetrated against mankind. ‘The hoax is there are some people so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change the climate,’ Inhofe said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “Man can’t change the climate'”. Right!  And man couldn’t eliminate the cod or turn Mongolia into a desert, or make Chernobyl uninhabitable, or virtually destroy our forests, the “lungs of the planet” so we can all eat hamburgers. Sorry it was arrogant of me to bring that up.

But truly it doesn’t matter. What matters is that what we are doing is destroying us! Our quest for fossil fuels has placed us in a state of perpetual war, the pollution we put into our rivers, lakes, oceans and air is making us ill, clearcutting has destroyed much of the Amazon and other forests around the globe, pesticides and herbicides are causing disease among us, and the patenting of life threatens all of us. And these are only a few of the human activities that are destroying the key elements that support us and the other life on which we depend.

Climate change be damned, we owe it to ourselves, our children, our grandchildren, and the unborn to take control NOW and end these curses upon our bodies and souls.

That’s how I feel tonight. Art MacKay

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Featured Article – http://bangordailynews.com/2015/01/22/politics/senate-not-ready-to-tie-climate-change-to-mankind/

In 50-49 vote, US Senate says climate change not caused by humans

U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) (C) is greeted by a reporter as he arrives for the weekly Senate Republican caucus luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 13, 2015.

JONATHAN ERNST | REUTERS
U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) (C) is greeted by a reporter as he arrives for the weekly Senate Republican caucus luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 13, 2015.
Posted Jan. 22, 2015, at 6:59 a.m.

WASHINGTON — The Senate rejected the scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change, days after NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared 2014 the hottest year ever recorded on Earth.

The Republican-controlled Senate defeated a measure Wednesday stating that climate change is real and that human activity significantly contributes to it. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, offered the measure as the Senate debated the Keystone XL pipeline, which would tap the carbon-intensive oil sands in the Canadian province of Alberta.

The Senate voted 50-49 on the measure, which required 60 votes in order to pass.

“Only in the halls of Congress is this a controversial piece of legislation,” Schatz said.

The chairman of the environment committee, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., is an enthusiastic denier of climate change, saying it is the “biggest hoax” perpetrated against mankind.

“The hoax is there are some people so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change the climate,” Inhofe said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “Man can’t change the climate.”

The Senate, with Inhofe’s support, did pass a separate measure saying that climate change is real — just not that human activity is a cause. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., was the only senator to vote against it.

The Democrats pushed for the climate change votes as an attempt to get Republicans on the record in advance of the 2016 elections, with polls showing that a majority of Americans believe humans are causing global warming. The votes were offered as non-binding amendments to the bill authorizing construction of Keystone.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, urged her colleagues to vote against the finding that climate change is significantly caused by humans.

Murkowski, chairwoman of the energy committee, has expressed worries about the impact of climate change on her state. But she said on the Senate floor that the fact the measure included the word “significantly” was enough to merit voting against it.

Some Republican senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have dodged the issue of whether humans are causing climate change, often using the talking point that “I’m not a scientist.”

President Barack Obama mocked the “I’m not a scientist” line in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night.

“Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what? I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities,” Obama said.

Scientists from NASA and NOAA announced last week that 2014 was the hottest year on record, continuing a warming trend that the scientists attributed to greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels.

Just five Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, joined the Democrats on Wednesday in voting for the finding that human activity significantly contributes to climate change.

Graham said he’s not a scientist, but that he has heard enough from scientists on the issue to be convinced.

He rejected Democratic arguments that approving the Keystone XL pipeline would worsen climate change, though, maintaining that the Canadian oil sands are going to be developed even if the pipeline is not built.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC


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