September looks to be a month when energy and climate change due to human-caused global warming is on a lot of minds locally. Here in the North Fork there are multiple events coming up dealing with climate change, energy transition updates and modernization, and concern about natural gas development in our area. On Sept. 8 there will be a Rise for Climate Action Rally at Paonia Town Park from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. or so. The following Sunday there will be a Rally for the Valley event held at Delicious Orchards at Paonia concerning proposed gas and oil development/leasing, and then to cap off the month, on Sept. 17-18, there will be the second annual ENGAGE Energy Conference at the Energy Tech Center in Paonia.
In the meantime, local, regional and national politicians seem divided between accepting the facts of science as we best can assess them, and holding on to willful ignorance. One glaring example of the latter comes in the form of a letter in the DCI last week from State Senate candidate, Mike Mason.
Mason begins, in response to a previous letter by environmental activist Pete Kolbenschlag, by correctly stating that we have had worse single worst years in the midst of droughts, as judged by snowpack levels, citing 1977 and 1934 and then mentioning the drought that may have forced the Anasazi to move to other areas. This is cherry picking data to support what is the most popular climate science denier point, "The climate is always changing and always will, so the change now is probably natural."
Yes, for the history of the earth climates have not been particularly stable and even over the last 12,000 years of the Holocene, we have had ups and downs but we also always have maintained enough of an average for human civilization to develop and maintain agriculture and cities, and those sea ports. And for the last 800,000 to possibly several million years, even through a series of ice ages and inter-glaciations, the amount of energy absorbing C02 in the atmosphere has stayed within a steady range of between about 150 to 280 ppm. We are now well out of that range due to the burning of sequestered carbon from fossil fuels, agriculture, deforestation, cement manufacturing and other human actions.
Then, Mason moves from choosing misleading facts, to conspiracy theories like claiming that sea level rise data and predictions have been "misrepresented for political purposes." Again, he mixes half-fact in with fiction like saying that "sea levels have been rising since the end of the last ice age." That is false. They rose very rapidly at the end of the last ice age for the obvious reason, melting ice, but they reached a rough equilibrium for many centuries as evidenced by where sea ports and other infrastructure were placed as civilization began to develop. Conservative, best-science estimates now predict sea level rises of between 3 and 6 feet by the end of this century, which would indeed pose serious challenges to Miami and other low-lying areas.
Then, Mason brings up another misleading denier point of CO2 being good for plants. Yes, it is if adequate water and nutrients are also present. Minus one of those and you have a 2018 Delta County hayfield in late August. CO2 is only a negative when there is too much of it, which adds too much energy, too rapidly to the earth system. Then you get too-rapid climate change.
Recap -- Climate Science 101: 1. The Earth is warming; 2. It's humans; 3. Science is sure; 4. This is bad; and 5. We can fix it. And 6. Science deniers like Mr. Mason are doing real damage in trying to slow down the needed transition. Please reject Mike Mason's willful ignorance of science and consider a vote for his opponent, Senator Kerry Donovan, who supports a thoughtful, reasonable transition to renewable energy.
On Tuesday, Sept. 11, the Delta County Board of Commissioners called a special meeting to consider the board's response to the Bureau of Land Management's preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) concerning the lease parcels proposed for the December BLM sale.
Several people from the North Fork were present to provide input.