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Guest Column

May 17, 2014

The pipeline is just part of a larger problem

I am opposed to the Constitution Pipeline because if we are to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, we need to stop building yet more infrastructure for fossil fuels.

The latest analysis of thousands of relevant peer-reviewed articles on climate says yet again that global temperatures are on the rise, and the primary cause is mankind’s burning of fossil fuels.

We have known about the greenhouse effect and global warming since the 1970s and 1980s respectively. We need to be moving away from burning fossil fuels toward energy that doesn’t produce carbon dioxide and methane, the primary drivers of global warming.

At the rate we are going, it doesn’t appear as though the temperature will be kept to the projected increase of 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the next 86 years. But what if we could limit the increase to 3.5 degrees? What then?

So far, the increase has been a little more than one degree since 1950. In the past 20 years, we have had four deadly local flood events with this 1-degree temperature increase. In the prior 20 years, there was no loss of life due to flooding.

What will it be like with everything 3.5 degrees warmer? What kind of flooding events will we have then? Because we are largely pretending that climate change isn’t real, the increase will likely be more than 3.5 degrees, maybe 7 or 8 degrees.

At the start of the Industrial Revolution, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere was about 290 parts per million. Climate scientists say that in order to enjoy life as we have known it, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere should be no higher than 350ppm.

Currently, CO2 levels in our atmosphere are hovering around 400ppm and are increasing faster all the time. Humanity has never experienced these levels before. We are in completely uncharted territory. However, in the earth’s history before humankind, there were times when CO2 was higher than 400ppm and temperature rose as a result.

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