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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Scott Mandia, The New Mexican: Stop Bickering -- Climate Disaster Looms

Stop Bickering -- Climate Disaster Looms

by Scott Mandia, The New Mexican, Santa Fe, February 7, 2011

Two February 2, 2011, My Views, the first by Ronald Wells ("Climate-change alarmists fear science") and another by Joseph L. Bast ("Writer owes Schmitt, readers apology") claim that humans are not the primary cause of the modern-day global warming. Every international academy of sciences disagrees. 

Basic physics that has been known for more than a century tells us that adding heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide will cause the planet to warm. Not surprisingly, the oceans and atmosphere are rapidly warming and ice is rapidly melting. 

Climate change is increasing risks for many stakeholders. According to a The New York Times article from August 2009, military and intelligence experts warn that "climate-induced crises could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions." 

The insurance industry accepts the scientific evidence. In 2008, Ernst & Young and Oxford Analytica interviewed more than 70 industry analysts from around the world to identify the emerging trends and uncertainties driving the performance of the global insurance sector over the next five years. Number one on their list was climate change. 

Health officials conclude that a warming climate and extreme weather patterns are projected to spread and increase infectious diseases such as Dengue fever, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, encephalitis and others. 

A warming climate will have a significant impact on water supplies in the coming decades. A recent report by consulting firm Tetra Tech for the Natural Resources Defense Council found that more than 1,100 counties — one-third of all counties in the lower 48 states — will face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century as the result of global warming. More than 400 of these counties will face extremely high risks of water shortages, and many of these are in New Mexico. 

Government officials expect that our southern border will face increased rates of immigration due to the expected severe droughts that will also be experienced by our southern neighbors. 

It is time to move the conversation away from the cause of climate change, where there is no legitimate scientific debate, to discussing how we can best minimize and adapt to the changes we see today and the bigger changes expected in our future. New Mexico residents will bear the burden of climate change before many other U.S. states. 

Scott A. Mandia, professor of physical sciences at Suffolk County Community College (SUNY), New York, has been teaching meteorology and climatology courses for more than 23 years.

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