John E. Howell wrote to criticize Oak Park and River Forest High School students for rallying against global warming. [Are students marching for the right reasons? Viewpoints, Nov. 25] He says he is old enough to remember “false crises” before. Well, here is a 63-year-old who hopes Mr. Howell is not too old to learn.
Global warming is real, and it is a very serious threat. It is mainly caused by human activity. Scientists have been studying the threat over the last 20 or 30 years. They make computer models to estimate how bad and how fast it will come, usually with a best-case, middle and worst-case scenario. When they compare the model to the data after a few years, time after time the data show it is worse than they thought – worse than the worst-case scenario.
Already, island nations are making plans to evacuate. Weather patterns are changing. Droughts are increasing world hunger. And the effects of the massive, ever-increasing emissions of the last 20-30 years have hardly been felt yet. The CO2 we put up today will keep affecting the climate for 100 years.
Elizabeth Kolbert of The New Yorker wrote a few years ago that climate change is the only issue she’s ever looked into where the experts are much more alarmed than the general public. Today the experts are much more alarmed than they were when she wrote that.
We face increased storms, increased flooding, increased drought (yes, both!), the spread of insect-borne disease, hunger, massive migration by people unable to live where they were, the melting of the glaciers that supply water to a billion people in India, China and the rest of South Asia – and that’s just the beginning.
The students can see that their future is endangered. As a 63-year-old, I am alarmed at what my children will face. I am alarmed at what I will live to see.
There is plenty that can be done. The problem can be solved. But it won’t be if people don’t see it as the most urgent problem facing the world.
Please educate yourself, Mr. Howell, and other Journal readers as well. Listen to what world leaders tell us from Copenhagen. Read Al Gore’s new book, Our Choice. There are plenty of other sources. What there is not is even one peer-reviewed scientific publication in the last few years making a serious case that we don’t have a serious threat from human-caused global warming.
A few decades from now, your grandchildren and mine will be asking: What did we do about this threat?
Doug Burke is a semiretired math teacher who lives in Oak Park. He initiated a group called the Oak Park Energy Initiative, which is advocating for a program to retrofit houses in Oak Park to save energy and money.