The following is a letter to the editor:
To the Editor:
On the very night The New York Times published a lead article on the draft report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”) that concluded with 95% certainty “that humans are the principal cause” of the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that could have “profound consequences,” residents packed the Trailside auditorium to hear Dr. Alan Robock explain the science of climate change.
The program presented by New Jersey Organizing for Action (“NJOFA”) was in line with the approach recommended in the New York Times column by former Republican EPA Administrators A Republican Case for Climate Action: “When confronted with a problem... Look at the facts, cut through the extraneous, devise a workable solution, and get it done.”
Dr. Alan Robock, a distinguished professor of climate science at Rutgers University, is a lead author of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. Those reports are considered the “definitive assessment of the risks of climate change.” He explained that the burning of fossil fuels by humans causes the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and these gases retain heat from the sun like a backyard greenhouse. Higher temperatures mean more energy in the atmosphere, and hotter air holds more water. These changes are causing rising average world temperatures, melting ice, rising sea levels, volatile weather including more severe storms and droughts, more wild fires, and ecosystem changes. He emphasized the severe impacts of increased global warming on human society and our metropolitan area, including future flooding of low lying areas in New Jersey and Manhattan.
More results of global warming and actions to counter them were described by the other three speakers: Harriet Shugarman, an economist; Christine Guhl, the Organizing Representative of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign New Jersey; and Beth Kelly, an OFA Training Coordinator.
Ms. Shugarman discussed the real cost of allowing carbon to be dumped into our atmosphere, including the higher cost of food staples from farming area droughts, increased medical bills from increased respiratory & infectious diseases, and higher insurance rates from severe storm damage. Repairs because of Sandy alone are estimated at 65 billion dollars. She advocated transitioning to renewable energy and greater efficiency in our use of energy, explaining that when the cost of carbon is considered, renewables like wind and solar are directly competitive with fossil fuels and in some places cheaper.
Christine Guhl described the effort to implement development of wind turbines off the New Jersey coast to replace New Jersey’s coal fired power plants. 74% of the 2012 U.S. CO2 power plant emissions were from coal fired power plants
Beth Kelly explained the Climate Plan announced by President Obama in June. The President’s Plan involves developing and implementing new EPA carbon pollution standards for new and existing power plants, doubling production of clean energy in the U.S. by 2020, and making buildings, appliances and vehicles more efficient. The Plan will also spur America’s commitment to vital industries expected to generate economic growth, increase exports, and allow us to retain our leading role as a world economic power.
The Republican Column endorsed the Plan as “achievable actions that will deliver real progress.” Studies find that “most Americans” believe that Global Warming should be a priority for our government, but an energized public movement has not developed to convince Congress to act. Without public action, a resistant Congress will continue to thwart the essential and common sense actions in the Climate Plan.
OFA is working to organize and energize the public to pressure Congress to lead the world on Climate Change and preserve our economy. Voters who want to help are urged to call (908) 458-6417.