Climate change—a greater global threat than terrorism

For years scientists have been urging our political and economic leaders to move away from nearly exclusive reliance on fossil fuels to run our modern economy. The change has been vigorously resisted. Reasons offered include: The scientists are wrong. Even if they’re right it’s too costly to correct, and if they are right, it’s too late to do anything about it.

The first major financial interest to take the problem seriously was the insurance industry. The ever-rising damage claims from increasingly violent tornados, hurricanes, floods and fires got their attention. They were having difficulty covering the cost.

A recent report from the European Environmental Agency indicated their continent was warming more rapidly than the rest of the world with damaging effects from deadly heat waves, floods, rising sea levels and melting glaciers in the Swiss Alps. While the average global temperature increase over the past 100 years was 1 degree Fahrenheit, Europe recorded a 1.7-degree increase.

Sir David King, chief science adviser to English Prime Minister Tony Blair, indicated that climate change is a greater threat to the world than terrorism.

Europe is ahead of the United States in attempts to combat climate change. They’re increasing their use of renewable fuels and are reaping the job rewards from installing wind farms and PV systems.

Within the United States, pressure’s building to take actions to combat global warming. In July, New York City, the state of New York and seven other states filed suit against several large power companies to force them to reduce their carbon emissions and other pollutants.

Business Week called attention to the need to become serious about global warming in its Aug. 16 issue. Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) have proposed Federal legislation to reduce emissions of global warming gases, encourage an increase in energy efficiency, and increase the amount of electricity generated from renewable energy sources.

After years of doubting the reality of global warming, the Bush administration presented a new report to Congress acknowledging that emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-tracking gases are the only like explanation for global warming. With action stirring in Congress and the White House, it seems that some solutions are coming.

Since this is an election year, the promise of corrective actions may exceed the reality of what is implemented when the dust settles. However, a number of cities, counties, and states have been striking out on their own to initiate programs of energy efficiency and renewable energy. They have set goals such as attaining 15 percent of their energy services from renewable sources by 2015.

Chicago has a successful program in place. It includes green roofs covered by a thin layer of soil and hearty vegetation, which mitigate the urban heat island effect.

In Rockford, the Burpee Museum should be congratulated for its green roof initiative. What additional steps is Rockford willing to take? What are Winnebago County and other political entities in Illinois doing?

It’s time for us to act.

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