Community Perspective

On climate change, listen to our young people

Are the older folks who are running the world listening to the young folks who have awakened to the fact that we are destroying their future world? I’m sure a climate change denier would just say that our kids have been hoodwinked by left-wing radicals.

Before you make that judgment, listen to what they are saying. In school they are studying the science, seeing what’s happening, and they are begging us to listen to what the scientists are saying. And why shouldn’t we listen to the scientists?

Everything around us in our modern world has come from the work of scientists and engineers who spend decades of their lives delving into their special areas of study, often with results that benefit all of us. Failure to believe them on climate issues is not a good option.

The climate warming issue is much like the tobacco and cancer issue that was denied for decades even though the tobacco companies knew that their products were causing cancer. The truth eventually came out that they knew all along that their products were causing serious health problems.

The same thing is happening with the energy companies that have employed scientists who have known for decades that they were contributing to a warming climate.

So what have they done? Obfuscate and deny, just like the tobacco companies. Some of the same legal teams who worked for the tobacco industries to help deny the obvious are now working for the energy industries. Surprise.

Part of the obfuscation has been to suggest that climate scientists simply want to increase their paychecks by bringing in grants to study climate issues. This is not how scientists get paid.

Many climate scientists have been working in government labs and don’t get grants or get paid based on their findings. In universities, a part of a scientist’s paycheck will likely come from their grants, but the size or number of grants do not set their salaries. They may get moved upward toward a full professorship sooner if they are productive, bring in grants, and help graduate a number of students in their field, but they do not get to spend their grant money to buy new cars or houses. It just doesn’t work that way.

The climate warming issue has unfortunately become a political issue, when it really isn’t. It’s about the survival of our way of life. Oh, we will likely survive as a species even if nothing is done to thwart a warming Earth, but the conditions our progeny will have to endure will be nothing like the problems we are seeing now.

Things like increasing storm intensities, more serious floods, more intense and frequent hurricanes, more serious droughts, continued loss of coastal properties, etc. It’s here now, and it’s only going to get worse no matter what we do.

The scientists who have been warning us about this for decades are no longer suggesting we can stop the warming. But if we start taking the issue seriously, we may slow the increase to the point where those still alive at the end of this century will still be able survive, even though it will be a much different world than we have today.

Both political parties have been negligent in recognizing and addressing our warming Earth. The kids of today who will inherit our Earth are going to be of voting age soon. Many in the year 2020, and more in 2022 and beyond. The Democrats are slowly waking up to this fact, but they need to get their act together to make sweeping changes in how we use energy.

For some reason Republicans, who used to be conservative and think these things through, have joined their leaders in sticking their heads in the sand, hoping it will just go away. It won’t. You may recall that it was Republicans who established the Environmental Protection Agency and who pushed for clean air and water. Would some of those forward-looking Republicans please step forward now when we need them more than ever.

If the Republicans want a viable party in the future, and I think our country would be better off with two viable parties with contrasting views, they had better wake up to and address the realities we are facing.

Dave Nebert lives in Fairbanks.

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