July 14, 2006

To The Editor:

I would like to offer a few comments concerning global warming as well as Olin Potter's July 6 column on the subject.

In the first place, this is a serious scientific issue that has nothing to do with Charlemagne and does not rest primarily on what the media has to say, even though these organizations perform a vital function in getting pertinent information to the public. And no, Al Gore did not invent the internet, and he did not invent the global warming issue either.

To my knowledge the question goes back close to 30 years. In the early 1980s the chief climate scientist with the Goddard Space Institute, an arm of NASA, told a  Congressional committee that global warming is real and stems primarily from carbon dioxide buildup, though other types of emission are involved in some degree. Soon after George W. Bush took office, he asked the National Academy of Sciences to undertake a study on the question. The Academy at that time had already made 34 studies, each confirming in one way or another that global warming is real and is caused by human activity. Not surprisingly, the results of the additional study the president asked for were similar.

It now appears that more than 600 studies or papers on the subject have passed through the academic review process and none has come to a different conclusion. And even Olin acknowledges that global temperatures have gone up by about one degree Fahrenheit. This hardly seems a trivial amount, particularly in that the increase seems to be occurring exponentially and not at a constant rate.

The very fact that so many diverse groups are involved, attests that this issue cuts broadly across political and ideological lines. And not all Democrats in Congress think this is a problem, while John McCain is only one of many Republicans who agree the situation is dangerous.

The probability of inundation of coastal areas is often mentioned and rightly so, but just as worrisome is the likelihood that the greatest temperature increases will occur in inland areas with arid or at least drier conditions resulting. Imagine how this might affect agricultural productivity in the Midwest.

Write your senator or congressman, call the governor, ask for a special session of the legislature. The time for debate is over; the time for action is now!

John Hutton