ATM 2019 ~ Article 18 – A Petitioners’ Article ~ Part II


By Brown Pulliam

As reported by the New York Times, On June 24, 1988, one of the top scientists at NASA testified that “the earth has been warmer in the first five months of this year than in any comparable period since measurements began 130 years ago, and the higher temperatures can now be attributed to a long-expected global warming trend linked to pollution”.

Dr. James E. Hansen, director of NASA’s Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan, testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that it was 99 percent certain that the warming trend was not a natural variation but was caused by a buildup of carbon dioxide and other artificial gases in the atmosphere”.  The Times article did mention that a few dissenters still held that the rise in global temperature was part of natural statistical fluctuations, but the vast majority of climate scientists began reporting research results that were consistent with Hansen’s conclusion that the warming trend was man-made.  Prior to 1990 politicians of both major parties were expressing concern about global warming, though few of either party were willing to talk serious corrective measures.

Then, what had appeared to be settled science began to be disputed by agents of the fossil fuel industry, and once they had invented a “climate issue” by spending tens of millions of dollars on lobbying, they achieved the last thing the world needs, a political polarization of climate science, in spite of the fact that about 97% of climate scientists say we have to limit global warming, versus a denial by the few who get paid by oil, coal, and gas interests.  During the past thirty years, the actual warming of the planet and rise in ocean levels have been well within the statistical boundaries of Hansen’s predictions, and our past inaction has reduced our available time to commence major countermeasures to almost zero.  Our system is broken, our leaders unresponsive to this major emergency, so all we have left is the power of the voice of the people.

Once, as a young man, I happened to be discussing Halley’s comet with my father.  He told me he had watched it when he was 17 years old, and of his then wondering whether he would live to see it on its next visit.  He didn’t, and I have now exceeded his span by thirty years.  I know that in my remaining time I won’t learn whether mankind is destined to keep our livable climate.  If, however, we are destined to fail, that would become evident before my years are done.  I would not see the legislative actions voted to fund large projects, nor the bond issues authorized to raise tens of billions of dollars, or Boards appointed to allocate construction resources, and contracts signed for technical schools and universities to train or retrain millions of workers with the skills needed to create more energy efficient transportation, wind, solar, and maybe even nuclear power plants, whatever it takes for the world to become carbon neutral by 2050.

In a practical sense, any debate will only add CO2 to the atmosphere, but our battle to reclaim our earthly heritage to bequeath it intact to our great-grandchildren can begin with a YES vote for Article 18.

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