Letter: Mankind needs an escape route | PostIndependent.com

Letter: Mankind needs an escape route

Charles Krauthammer’s piece on climate change reignited the local debate on global warming. His point, that a scientific consensus exists does not mean that scientists are correct is, of course, right.

How many times in history has a scientific consensus been wrong: answer, many. How many times has the medical profession reversed itself on a particular issue? Science is fallible.

The empirical facts, the really incontrovertible data on the ground, clearly show that global warming is a demonstrable fact. Facts also show that the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is due to the combustion of fossil fuels.

What is also becoming clear is that science’s ability to predict the consequences of increased atmospheric carbon is limited and that current climate change models are unable to make politically and economically useful predictions.

So when faced with the question of what should we do, we struggle to find answers. To reduce carbon loading of the atmosphere to presumably benign levels of around 200 ppm would require a complete overhaul of the world’s energy systems. India, China and even Europe have told us that this is not going to happen. China alone is on schedule to open a new coal fired power plant every week! Europe and Japan are abandoning nuclear power and reverting to fossil fuels. For the foreseeable future atmospheric carbon is going up, not down, no matter what the U.S. does. We are not in control.

To date the more dire predictions of global warming have not materialized. But what if they do? It would be imprudent to ignore the warnings science provides. We clearly need an escape route. Mankind has reached the stage of evolution whereby, for better or worse, we can influence global climate. It is time to start investigating, on an experimental level, how we can negate, if necessary, the consequences of high atmospheric carbon.

There are two basic options: (1) reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth by about 2 percent or (2) scrub the excess carbon from the atmosphere. This so called geo-engineering is an infant science but may be our only insurance policy.

Michael Larime

Glenwood Springs

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