Guest Column: Dangers of dismissing climate change

09/30/2018 5:57 AM |

The renowned physicist Wolfgang Pauli once reviewed a paper that failed to reflect even a basic understanding of the physics involved. His remark has become one of the greatest put-downs of all time: “This isn’t right. It’s not even wrong.” 

That comment summarizes President Trump’s position on global warming and climate change. His views go far beyond ignorance; they’re just dumb. To believe Mr. Trump’s assertion that global warming is a hoax requires us to disbelieve NOAA, NASA, the thousands and thousands of climate scientists who work for the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change — and to assume that virtually every organization of professional scientists in the world that support the findings of the IPCC somehow got the science wrong. Worse, to believe Trump we must dismiss all of the evidence these groups have accumulated to support their assertion that global warming is real, that it causes climate change and that it poses a threat to humankind.

We are supposed to simplemindedly accept the president’s view on this critically important topic despite the fact that his public comments on the matter amount to gibberish — total nonsense. What credible evidence do President Trump and the Republican Party offer to support their anti-science position? None! Zip! Nada! The president and the party have abdicated our leadership position in the world of rational men and women, removed the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change and pursued a legislative agenda that will make global warming and climate change much worse.

In contrast, the position of the scientific community on climate change is crystal clear. Virtually (perhaps literally) every organization of professional scientists in the world agrees with this statement from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which was cosigned by 31 American science organizations: “Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research concludes that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver. This conclusion is based on multiple independent lines of evidence and the vast body of peer-reviewed science.” 

I suspect our own congressman, Lee Zeldin, knows the truth about climate change but lacks the moral courage to oppose his party’s inane position. Mr. Zeldin seems to want it both ways; he has joined the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus but he failed to sign its letter to President Trump asking that the U.S. remain committed to the Paris Agreement. Mr. Zeldin brags about his environmental work for our district, for which he should be applauded, yet he has voted the party line on virtually all environmental issues, earning a grade of 9 percent from the League of Conservation Voters. More importantly, Mr. Zeldin has utterly failed to speak out against his party’s mindless assault on our warming planet.

Let me help put this in perspective for you, Mr. Congressman. Write a letter to your grandchildren stating that as a member of Congress you were in a position of power but you chose not to take a strong stand against global warming and climate change. Instead, you supported the Republican Party’s anti-science, anti-environment agenda. You can fill in the reasons you think justify your inaction. Then sign the letter. 

Remember that the dinosaurs ruled the Earth for almost 200 million years. The majority (birds survived) were wiped out by climate change likely caused by an asteroid impact. Today, human-caused climate change is like an untreated cancer. Its progress may be slow, but the end is inevitable. We must send to Congress someone with the moral courage to advocate strongly for the mitigation of anthropogenic global warming/climate change.

So, I’ll be looking to vote for someone other than Mr. Zeldin; someone who knows that uninhibited climate change will result in horrific human suffering on a scale the world has never before experienced. Experts predict refugees from rising sea levels, droughts, famine and increased desertification will number in the hundreds of millions — most of them from underdeveloped countries that have contributed the least to global warming. Given the current attitudes here and around the globe, I can’t imagine they will be warmly welcomed. 

Mr. Gibbons is a former U.S. Navy officer and Vietnam veteran. He taught social studies at Mattituck High School for 35 years and is currently an assistant professor of education at Long Island University.

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