The International Writers Magazine
: Comment: Climate Change

Larry S. Rolirad

Republicans, before I ask you to take a pledge I would like you to read about the consequences of global warming, greenhouse gasses, and depletion of the ozone layer.

If we do not act to reduce the use of fossil fuels your children will inherit a world which is hotter, which has dirtier air and water, which has severe floods and droughts, increasingly intense hurricanes, and more wildfires.  Also, the level of the ocean will rise dramatically causing massive flooding along the entire coastal areas of the United States.  And as the ocean warms the intensity of hurricanes will become more severe causing great losses in lives.

The ever-thickening layer of carbon dioxide pollution, mostly from power plants and automobiles, traps heat in the atmosphere.  This causes the earth's temperature to rise causing 'global warming'.  According to scientific predictions, US temperatures could rise to as much as 9 degrees by the end of this century.  The consequences of such a huge spike in temperature would be rising sea levels, the flooding of coastal areas, more frequent and intense heat waves, droughts and wildfires, an increase in disease-carrying mosquitos, and millions of species could face extinction.

In the past forty years the ocean's temperature has risen one degree.  In that same forty year period the intensity of hurricanes has gone up drastically as a result of the warming of the ocean.  Although the frequency of hurricanes per season has not changed appreciably the intensity has increased.  With an increase in ocean temperature of an additional nine degrees it is very conceivable that catastrophes never imagined in the history of mankind could occur by 2100.  Since it only took a one degree increase in ocean temperature to create monster storms, like hurricanes Katrina and Rita, a nine degree increase could unleash storms that could swamp entire states and kill tens of millions of people.  Of course, by then, the republican naysayers of today would be long gone, but because of their lack of non-action, hundreds of thousands of square miles of land could be destroyed and tens of millions of people could be killed.

As the effect of global warming increases, frequent and more intense heat waves could result in more heat-related deaths.  Global warming could also degrade air quality which could affect tens of millions of people just in the United States.  Global warming is expected to increase the potential geographic range and virulence of tropical diseases as well.   Two years ago, unusually extreme heat waves caused more than 20,000 deaths in Europe and more than 1500 deaths in India.  Mosquitos that can carry dengue fever viruses were previously limited to elevations of 3,300 feet, but recently they have appeared at elevations higher than 7,000 feet in the Andes Mountains of Columbia.  Malaria has been detected in even higher elevation areas in Indonesia.  It is safe to say that epidemics could be routine and widespread in the future.

Rising global temperatures will cause the melting of glaciers and ice caps, and cause early ice thaw on rivers and lakes.  At the current rate of retreat, all of the glaciers in Glacier National Park will be gone by 2070.  After existing for thousands of years, the northern section of the Larsen B ice shelf in Antarctica, a section larger than the state of Rhode Island, collapsed between January and March 2002, disintegrating at a rate that astonished scientists.  Since 1995 the ice shelf's area has shrunk by a whopping 40 percent.  According to NASA scientists, the polar ice cap is melting at a frightening rate of nine percent per decade.  Arctic ice thickness has decreased almost 40 percent since the 1960s.

As a result of global warming, sea levels will continue to rise.  This is due to the thermal expansion of the oceans, the partial melting of mountain glaciers, and the partial melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps.  The rise in the level of the ocean will result in the loss of coastal wetlands and increase the risk of floods for all coastal communities.  The coastal cities along the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern seaboard will be especially vulnerable to massive flooding.  Within the next 95 years the ocean's level could rise from 19 inches to 37 inches.  Since a large number of communities on the Gulf Coast are barely over 25 feet they could very well be underwater by 2100.
Republicans, citing business concerns, don't believe that any species should be protected.  They always favor jobs over the environment.  But as global temperatures rise ecosystems will be severely affected causing over a million species to die off within 45 years.  The impact of such a drastic depletion of species which are crucial to maintain our current balance of nature is unknown, but it could be catastrophic, as our delicate planet is dependent on the interdependency of all species.

Burning fossil fuels in cars and power plants releases carbon dioxide that blankets the Earth and traps heat within the atmosphere.  Oceans cover the majority of the Earth's surface, and they absorb most of this excess heat.  And when ocean temperatures are warmed it increases the intensity of storms.   As an example, hurricanes Katrina and Rita started out as category one hurricanes, but once they hovered over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico for a couple of days they quickly became category five hurricanes.  We can now see the consequences of having a category five hurricane hitting the coastal city of New Orleans and the southwestern coast of Louisiana.  Global warming has increased dramatically in recent decades and because of that global warming pollution can stay in the atmosphere for more than a hundred years.  And as pollution from fossil fuels continue to build up in the atmosphere global warming will increase even more.  It is an endless spiral that will have very dire consequences for the future of ecosystems we depend on for our survival, not to mention the very survival of countless species of animals, and even human beings.

Republicans laughed at Vice President Al Gore's suggestion that the internal combustion engine should be phased out.  Obviously, republicans believe that we should continue to have internal combustion engines forever and never improve or take advantage of newer technologies.  Republican 'leaders' have their allegence to the fossil fuel industry and not to the future of Americans, or even mankind.  Their mindset can be compared to those who believed horse drawn carriages should always be the only form of transportation.   After all, at the turn of last century people scoffed at the automobile saying it was a fad and that it wouldn't last.   They openly laughed at the early automobiles.  A more extreme example of an unwillingness to evolve and adapt and to grow occurred in the dark ages (less than 400 years ago) , when people believed that the earth was flat.  Republicans are well known to discount all science, especially the fundamentalist Christian republicans who denounce all science.  Radio jocks like Rush Limbaugh regularly attack anyone in the scientific community or from academia.  Perhaps Rush Limbaugh doesn't have an appreciation of science or scientists because he dropped out of college in his first year.  But that doesn't stop him from telling his millions of loyal listeners that global warming is a liberal invention conceived for political reasons.  To discredit Limbaugh's position all you have to do is follow the money.  Those people in the scientific community are not lining their pockets with gold by trying to warn the United States and the world about global warming.  So why should they have a political agenda?  They don't.  But Limbaugh and other republican talk show hosts need to demonize people to placate their listeners and improve their ratings.  They call anyone who speaks out responsibly for research into the consequences of having global warming and having a hole in the ozone layer "Environmental Whackos" or "EnviroNazis".

Republicans always say that anything that affects businesses adversely is wrong and they do everything they can to discredit it.  They always put the welfare of businesses above that of our environment and the future of the human species.  But what they don't understand, or don't want to admit, is that the consequences of doing nothing will prove to be catastrophic to businesses and the economy in the future.
Having spoken out about the dangers of global warming, greenhouse gasses, and the ozone layer depletion I now ask republicans to take the following pledge.
.... I, a card carrying republican, hereby pledge to:
• Refuse any aid from the government or from insurance companies to rebuild your flooded homes due to hurricanes with very high storm surges.
• Refuse any aid from the government or from insurance companies to rebuild your flooded homes due to the polar ice cap melting.
• Refuse any aid from the government or from insurance companies to rebuild your flooded homes due the rising ocean levels.
• Refuse any aid from the government or from insurance companies for any medical care related to the above looming environmental calamities.
• Refuse any food from the government in the case of massive food shortages caused by severe worldwide droughts.
• Refuse any medical care if you or one of your family members contracts non-melanoma skin cancers, spontaneous basal cell carcinomas, and skin tumors as a result of increased UV-B levels.
• Refuse any medical care if you or one of your family members contracts non-Hodgkin's lymphoma due to increased solar radiation which can cause a systemic suppression of your immune system.
• Refuse any medical care for diseases which are the result of polluted water.
• Refuse any medical care for diseases which are the result of polluted air.
• Refuse any medical care for diseases which are the result of polluted land.
• Refuse any medical care for cataracts of the eyes, which can be caused by chronic and increased UV-B exposures.
• Refuse any medical care for the outbreak of diseases which will flourish as warmer climates continue their northward march.
• Refuse to accept any money from government or from insurance companies when your home goes up in flames as a result of forest fires caused by drought.
• Refuse to accept any money from government or from insurance companies when your home is destroyed in a mud slide from torrential rains.
• Refuse any aid, food, or water when your home, farm or ranch turns into a dust bowl.
• Refuse any money from life insurance policies for the deaths of your elderly parents or your young children due to intense heat waves.
• (finally) Refuse to use my weapons to steal food, water, and medical supplies from those who were responsible enough to forsee the impending disasters and who stockpiled these necessities.

© Larry S. Rolirad October 2005
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