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Let’s approach climate change

| Wednesday, December 9, 2009

 Peer-reviewed science continues to provide more and more evidence that climate change is happening and that it is caused by humans. The disagreement among climate scientists on those two points is all but non-existent. Despite what you may hear, there is a clear consensus on those issues. Don’t trust everything the media tells you. Don’t trust me either. Read the peer-reviewed science on these issues and make your own decision.

The real point for debate, that I’m glad Mr. Easley addresses (“Global warming skeptic,” Dec. 7), is how we respond to climate change. It is true that there is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding what the magnitude of climate changes effects will be, but almost every model predicts at least some serious and costly consequence including more variable weather patterns, sea level rise, species extinctions and the spread of disease. Our challenge is to find the balance between the costs of abating GHG emissions and the benefits of avoiding unpredictability in the future. Because the people in the developing world have the least technology available to them to cope with changes and their economies are most closely tied to agriculture, it is the future generations of the developing world that stand to benefit the most from GHG reduction policies.

I think Mr. Easley is right in saying that it doesn’t seem right to deny technology advancements to the poor of this generation when wealthy countries like the United States have been spewing GHGs into the atmosphere for decades. However, it also seems wrong to condemn future generations to live with the effects of unabated climate change when they had no part in causing the changes. It may be that there are greater benefits to investing in infrastructure, education and health care than solely in GHG reduction technologies.

I propose that with sustainable development we can invest in a mix of both and achieve our goals of alleviating poverty and addressing climate change. These are the kinds of educated discussions we need to have at Notre Dame. I believe further delaying reductions in GHG emissions would be a terrible mistake, but by the same token it would also be a terrible mistake to ignore our other available opportunities. How we respond to climate change now will determine the fate of humanity for centuries to come. Let’s approach climate change at Notre Dame on a new level of serious examination and informed debate of a very real threat learning.

Connor Kobeski
Siegfried Hall
Dec. 7