In response to the two letters that appeared in the Dec. 9 DCI questioning the urgency of dealing with climate change, I would begin with a couple of statements. One: climate change caused by human-caused global warming, caused in turn mainly by our adding new CO2 to the carbon cycle through the burning of fossil fuels, is the very most important issue of the present and will continue to be so for several generations. ISIL is a serious concern right now but they will be dealt with, hopefully within a few years. Terrorism is episodic and can never be fully prevented, just reduced in probability. These are all short-term problems. We need to deal with both kinds of issues and not one exclusive of the other.
Human-caused climate change will be with us for many decades and possibly centuries. Allowed to proceed unchecked it will gradually disrupt all of human society including food systems, infrastructure, governmental stability, health and more. Mitigating it to keep negative effects at less-than-catastrophic levels (2 degrees C. of warming) will take a sustained effort by every nation on earth over many decades and failure is not an option. It is a global problem of the long term with the early effects in temperate areas not yet as fully apparent as they will be. Dramatic effects are happening right now in the Arctic, Greenland and in places like sub-Saharan Africa where a prolonged drought exacerbated by climate change probably led to the instability that led to the rise of ISIL. Our own Pentagon rates climate change as a leading security threat due to social effects of physical impacts.
Policy makers have been aware of problems since the late 1980s and science long before that beginning in the 1800s when the warming effects of CO2 were shown by experiments. Some progress was made at this year's COP21 gathering in Paris but not nearly enough.
Two: Libelous smears and simplistic claims of conspiracies as expressed by the one letter writer are not what the world needs. We need sustained action and we need it soon. We need to come together, accept the basic science and support coordinated intergovernmental actions like those put forth at COP21.We have been dawdling and denying the reality of the problem for over a quarter century and that is much too long. It's time to grow up and accept the moral responsibility for our actions as humans.