What others say: Rather than clashing on causes, let’s find solutions for climate change

  • Tuesday, June 26, 2018 9:07pm
  • Opinion

It seems few topics bring up more divisive arguments than climate change.

For whatever reason, what should be a rational and scientific discussion about changes to temperatures around the globe, ice melt or growth, at what rate global climate changes might be occurring, and whether changes are happening because of human activity or nature bring about extreme views and heated discussion.

The ubiquitous use of fossil fuels around the globe to power vehicles, heat and cool buildings, prepare meals, power our iCloud storage and charge our cellphones is cited as the primary cause of a warming atmosphere. Carbon-based exhaust gases emitted from burning the fuels are believed to trap heat into the atmosphere like a blanket over the earth.

Some of the most vocal cast blame on the fossil fuel industry and those who earn their living from it. “We must rapidly reduce and eliminate our use of fossil fuels to stop the growth of carbon into the atmosphere,” they say.

But it was an industrious Western society that learned to capture the power of fossil fuels that led to modernization of societies that raised billions of people out of poverty and improved people’s standard of living in the past 200 years faster than 2,000 years prior to that. “Won’t that same kind of innovation and technology come up with solutions to climate change, if it really is occurring?” others ask.

If there were easy solutions, there would be no arguments. Fossil fuels aren’t going away anytime soon, as renewable fuels can’t come close to powering our population’s ravenous energy desires. Even with efforts by governments, consumer groups and energy companies across the globe, renewables still lag in the amount of energy they supply on a percentage basis.

In 2017, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy (June 2018), the world consumed 13,511.2 million tonnes of oil equivalent. Of that energy, 85 percent was produced by fossil fuels (oil, 34 percent, coal, 28 percent, gas, 23 percent) while hydro (7 percent), nuclear (4 percent) and renewables (4 percent) made up the rest.

And even if the world were to somehow stop the use of fossil fuels today, climate change already underway will continue, two of the scientists who spoke at a climate change discussion at University of Charleston last week said during a meeting with Gazette-Mail staff.

But there are things companies, governments and individuals can do to reduce the damage of any inevitable change, said David Titley, director of Penn State’s Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk, and Michael Mann, Penn State director of the Earth System Science Center.

“We waste one-third of our energy, one-third of our water and one-third of our food,” Titley said. Each of those takes energy to produce, transport and consume, so better management practices at all levels will reduce energy use and emissions.

Likewise, with the possibility of flooding, forest fires and storms more likely, they said, better planning and better management practices by developers, government agencies and citizens are needed to reduce the impact and inevitable risk of such natural disasters.

The climate is changing, and the argument over its cause is not going to go away. Let the extremists argue their points, while the rest of us work to adapt to and manage the inevitable changes.

—The Charleston Daily Mail, June 18

More in Opinion

Deven Mitchell greets his fellow members of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s Board of Trustees at the start of his interview to be the APFC’s new executive director on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: It’s an honor to now lead Alaska’s largest renewable resource

As a lifelong Alaskan, leading APFC is my childhood dream come true

Opinion: Freedom in the classroom sets precedence for the future

We advocate for the adoption of legislation to protect students’ First Amendment rights…

A roll of “I Voted” stickers await voters on Election Day in Alaska. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the prospect of a state constitutional convention. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Election winners, losers and poor losers

Tshibaka and Palin misread Alaskans by thinking Trump’s endorsement all but guaranteed they’d win.

This 1981 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows an electron micrograph of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV. Children’s hospitals in parts of the country are seeing a distressing surge in RSV, a common respiratory illness that can cause severe breathing problems for babies. Cases fell dramatically two years ago as the pandemic shut down schools, day cares and businesses. Then, with restrictions easing, the summer of 2021 brought an alarming increase in what is normally a fall and winter virus. (CDC via AP)
Alaska Voices: What Alaskans need to know about RSV

By learning more about respiratory illnesses and taking helpful actions, we can all take steps to improve the situation

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Multiplying the power of every local dollar given

Each community foundation is a public charity that focuses on supporting a geographic area by pooling donations to meet community needs

The Homer Public Library as seen on Aug. 18, 2021, in Homer, Alaska. (File photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Point of View: Banning books corrodes diversity and inclusion in our community

Recently, a community member requested that a long list of books be removed from the children’s collection

Peninsula Oilers fans display encouragin signs for Oilers’ pitcher Bryan Woo, Friday, June 28, 2019, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)
Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: Judging judges — balancing the judicial selection process

Alaska’s method of selecting judges can be and should be improved.

Sarah Palin speaks at a July 11 Save America Rally featuring former President Donald Trump at Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The realities of Palin’s political demise

Palin wouldn’t be running for the seat if Rep. Don Young was still alive

Former Democratic state Rep. Beth Kerttula holds up a sign reading “Vote No Con Con,” during a recent rally at the Dimond Courthouse Plaza in Juneau. Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: What can a liberal and conservative agree on? Voting against a constitutional convention

“We disagree on many issues. But we… urge Alaskans to vote against Proposition 1.”

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Down to the wire: Be prepared before you vote

Remember your voice counts and all votes matter