Commentary: Why care about global warming?

The following is a commentary for the Opinion page submitted by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.

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By Bryan Van Gorp, Alexandria, MN

Why care about global warming? You know all the symptoms, which are broadcast on the news regularly. Increasingly severe storms, floods, melting ice caps, wild fires, extreme heat events, droughts, rising ocean levels, increasing ocean temperatures and acidification. Only a fool would ignore nature’s warnings.

The heating is driving feedback loops such as: More heat absorbed when the reflective ice is replaced by darker water, melting permafrost releasing more methane, desertification and fires releasing more carbon. All of this causes human impacts. Increased migration/immigration caused by unpredictable food and water availability, diseases, crime and death are the symptoms of ecosystem collapse.

Isn’t this just liberal propaganda? Educate yourself by researching what the Pentagon, NASA, and NOAA view as the major threats facing America. These are not liberal organizations.

So what are the solutions? There is no single easy answer and it will not be painless. Yes, building a renewable energy infrastructure will be good for the economy, create a lot of good jobs and give us less polluting/cheaper energy. Yes, solving this will require us to work together with our fellow citizens as well as with other countries, which could help create harmony and peace. It could even simplify and slow down our lives. Yes, it may help create a less consumeristic/superficial culture where we all feel responsible to do our part. An example of this spirit was the rationing and sacrifice during WWII.


There will also be hard parts. Maybe we need to consume less, eat a more local, plant-rich diet, garden, limit family size, leverage retirement savings to send a message, insulate our homes, updating to more efficient heating and appliances, drive smaller more efficient/electric vehicles, invest in renewable energy, pay a higher price for certain things. We can start by engaging in good faith conversations about solutions and being honest about the situation we are in.

We need to tax fossil fuels at the point of extraction and rebate the money back to everyone equally. This will help alleviate poverty, make renewables more competitive and help keep fossil fuels and the associated pollution in the ground. This tax should be increased yearly until we get the desired result. We can implement farm policies that tie subsidies to maximizing carbon sequestration. We can label every product with the carbon footprint of manufacturing, packaging, transporting and disposal/recycling. This would allow consumers an informed choice.

If you are interested in 100 more impactful solutions read, “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.” Yes, I do realize not every one is totally doable, but most are.

Won’t all this cost a lot of money? What is really expensive is doing nothing. Climate disasters are currently costing the US about 125 billion per year and rising fast. We currently waste money subsidizing the wrong stuff. There is also the issue of illness and deaths caused by fossil fuel generated pollutants. Aggressive action will be less expensive in the long run than dithering.

Why does fixing a problem scare some people more than the actual problem? Follow the money.

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