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Focus on awareness

Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, October 16, 2007

To respond to Matt Gore’s editorial (“Climate control not best use of funds,” Oct. 10), which used Energy Week as an inspiration to criticize funding to research climate change, I would first like to inform him that Notre Dame’s first annual Energy Week was not about climate change, but about awareness. The week’s events tried to educate the community about our individual energy use, the possibilities of renewable energy sources, and the measures our University is taking on energy issues. But since Mr. Gore brought up climate change:

Uncertainty about what the actual temperature change will be does not translate into uncertainty that climate change is happening. There is no debate in the scientific community that global warming is happening, and the consensus is that it’s happening because of humans burning fossil fuels and destroying forests. Unless we change our habits fast and limit the amount of greenhouse gases we emit, there will be significant changes to our planet and dire consequences for the humans that inhabit it. The worldwide effects of a change of 1 degree Celsius are severe; 5 degrees, unthinkable.

Mr. Gore brings up HIV and malaria prevention programs as alternatives to invest in for humanity, and I believe these issues certainly deserve our attention. But money for mosquito nets is not going to be enough. Global warming will only increase the geographic range and number of people at risk for transmission of malaria and other infectious diseases. Local environmental and socioeconomic conditions, including access to energy, will largely determine the actual occurrence of diseases, making the populations Mr. Gore is concerned about most vulnerable to the human effects of climate change.

If we truly desire to help humanity, we cannot be so short-sighted as to look only at the immediate problems we face today. We must also look to the future, to the generations that will inherit our world and ask ourselves what kind of world we are creating for them.

Caitlin Nora MurphyjuniorBreen-Phillips HallOct. 11