By Alan Heil
Let’s imagine for a moment that we’re expert scientists from a distant universe with our first opportunity for a close-up view from space of what its inhabitants call Planet Earth. Their recent studies have detected a recurring increase in surface temperatures on that planet.
What we see in this first closeup glimpse confirms what those mythical observers predicted. Earth’s surface ice is melting. It’s upper and lower polar regions (the Arctic and Antarctica) seem especially vulnerable. In a season called summer by the earthlings, the planet’s ice and snow are shrinking rapidly. Seen from near space, the round planet resembles a marble whose once nearly totally frozen north and south are receding quickly during summertimes.
How do we describe it to our scientists so far away from Earth who have dispatched us here to analyze what is happening after millennia of life there?” Scientists on Earth call it “global warming.” Others term it “global-threatening for all inhabitants, human and animal.”
Latest “down to earth” reasoning
As the New York Times put it in a February 7 editorial:
“After four years of scorn (during the Trump administration), climate change has risen near the top of the political agenda, where it deserves to be and where it has never been.
“That is the happy message contained in the blizzard of executive orders and press briefings from the Biden administration during its early weeks after the president’s inauguration January 20.
“Though less noticed, there was another uplifting development with important implications for the climate: the announcement from General Motors chief executive Mary Barra that the company is getting out of the internal combustion game and plans to sell only zero-emission cars and trucks by 2035. GM has already invested $27 billion to introduce 30 electric models in the next four years and will build a plant in Ohio to make batteries for these new models.”
“GM’s move,” the Times added, “was in part a competitive response to Volkswagen and other foreign automakers, including ones in China, that have announced fundamental shifts toward electric vehicles. It fits nicely with some of Mr. Biden’s climate goals, including (paving the way for) zeroing out greenhouse gas emissions in America by 2050.
Summing it all up
“Importantly,” the Times concluded, “it is also a reminder of the power of free market forces, without whose constructive engagement and the necessary private investments necessary to support clean energy sources like wind and solar — the climate crisis cannot be solved.”
As Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson put it July 6: “The planet is warming because human activity has raised the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by more than 47% since the dawn of the industrial revolution” of the late 19th and early 20th century.
“Atmospheric carbon,” he warns, “is now at a level not seen since three million years ago. Then the average sea level was 50 to 80 feet higher than today, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“The climate change and weather instability we are experiencing will be with us for centuries. But it will get much worse unless humanity reduces carbon emissions by shifting (from coal) to clean, renewable energy.”
One simple question for climate change skeptics: What is it about 121 degrees F. in Canada this summer that you don’t understand?
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More