Authors: Mark Welsch, Fellow Candidate, Class 5 I was honored to spend seven hours with Dr. James Hansen of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Dr. Hansen is one of the world's best-known and respected researchers on the long established scientific facts of global warming and climate change. I arranged for him to meet with Nebraska State Senators Ken Haar and Heath Mello, Omaha's Mayor Jim Suttle, and other important players in Nebraska politics and electricity production. They were impressed with the clarity of his message: If humans do not stop burning all fossil fuels by the year 2030, global warming will cascade out of control and cause catastrophic human and natural disasters in the United States and around the world. Unfortunately, the world's poor will be the ones who will suffer the most from these changes. In a recent paper, Dr. Hansen outlined what governments need to do to stabilize climate, fulfilling their obligation to young people and future generations.
Dr. Hansen's message reenergized my work to reduce Nebraska's dependence on coal and debunk the myth that climate change is not real. We must stop increasing, and start to reduce, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere by 2030. If we don't reduce the amount of CO2 back to, or under, 350 parts per million (PPM) the remaining glaciers, including the ice sheet on Greenland, will melt and disappear into the oceans, causing them to rise 20+ feet in this century and over 200 feet in the future centuries. Some rivers will dry up and others will have massive floods very often. CO2 is at 392PPM and rising about 2PPM every year. Before the Industrial Age started burning huge amounts of millions-of-years-old fossil fuels, the Earth's atmosphere had around 270PPM. If we don't stop CO2 emissions, the only way to stop the Earth from heating up after 2030 would be through costly bioengineering processes that have yet to be developed. To learn more about the effects of climate change on sea levels and Antarctica ice sheets, I recommend the documentary Secrets Beneath The Ice.
Local Action is Most Important Right Now
We all need to work together to keep this planet cool enough to avoid massive deaths of people and extinctions of 20 - 40% of everything alive today. This summer, many areas in the US experienced floods, droughts, massive fires and dust storms that were all made worse because of global warming. Climate change will only get worse if we don't stand up and take action quickly to stop putting more CO2 into the air. Local action is most important right now. You can make a difference. Every state will need to change their laws to force power companies to reduce the amount of CO2 they put into the air. I urge you to utilize the resources are available at http://www.realclimate.org for beginners and experts alike. Please join me. Resistance is Fertile!