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Guest opinion: Climate change denial has us in trouble

Fred Malo Jr.

How can anyone be a climate change denier? It's like denying the world is round. In the 16th century, Copernicus was the first scientist to postulate that the world was round. The Catholic Church said no way. The Bible says people fall off the edge of the Earth. How are they going to do that if the world is round? Copernicus was sent to prison for his findings.

Today, scientists say the future of life on this planet is in jeopardy because hydrocarbon emissions are destroying the ozone layer that protects our planet from the sun's ultraviolet rays, resulting in increased temperatures worldwide. Many Trumpsters are deniers.

The scientific method is a tough row to hoe. First, you develop a theory that fits in with what you know about the universe and can be substantiated. Then there is the arduous task of proving it through trial and error, anticipating every possible contingency. You take a skeptical approach to your theory, assuming it is wrong. When you finally do prove it, it becomes an axiom, a measurable fact, irrefutable by faith or intuition.

A few measurable facts: 2016 was the warmest year on record. Polar ice caps are melting. Sea levels are rising. And the big one, the ozone layer has been greatly diminished in the last 20 years by fossil fuel emissions. That is a measurable and frightening fact. I have yet to hear of one scientist who is a climate change denier.

We have to stop burning fossil fuels and leave them in the ground. Norway has done it. Nearly all electricity there is generated by renewable resources and it has the world's largest proportion of electric vehicles. It would take us a while to switch over to electric cars, but we could go to solar, wind or hydroelectric power very soon.

The price would be high. Jobs would be lost. The people who work in the oil, gas, and coal industries would have to be retrained to manufacture solar panels, windmills and hydroelectric dams.

Jobs become obsolete. A century ago, the workers who made horse-drawn carriages had to learn how to build car bodies and, today, those who made typewriters are now into word processors and computers.

Last year, nearly every nation on the globe agreed in Paris to try to do something about climate change. President Barack Obama pledged to not only reduce hydrocarbon emissions in this country, but help poorer nations to finance switches to renewable energy sources. President-elect Donald Trump said he will cancel that agreement and promote the coal, oil and gas industries. That would be disastrous.

Climate change is the most important issue in the world, but neither candidate talked about it much in the recent presidential campaign. It is more important than the economy, immigration, the bloodbath in the Middle East or even Hillary Clinton's emails or Trump's sexual dalliances.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a known oil and gas industry lackey and climate change denier, is Trump's choice for director of the Environmental Protection Agency (soon to be known as the Energy Propaganda Agency). Apparently, Pruitt hasn't noticed that Oklahoma had more earthquakes than California did this year. The reason: oil and gas drilling.

More importantly, Montana's U.S. Rep Ryan Zinke, another energy company proponent and climate change denier, is Trump's nominee to be the next secretary of the interior. Now I see that state Sen. Ray Scott from Grand Junction, a hotbed of pro-oil and gas company sentiment, will chair the Colorado Senate Select Committee on Energy and Environment. Colorado, the United States and the whole world is in trouble.

Fred Malo Jr. lives in Carbondale.