MARK ZOOK: Climate change is real, not a Disney cartoon

To the editor:

Jack Spencer thinks “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” captures the spirit of Earth Day. I think that is a massive stretch. He suggests that the environmental movement seemed to serve a rational purpose in cleaning up the air, water and woodlands but beyond that, needed to die a natural death. Apparently, according to Spencer, the environmental movement felt the need to create a sense of crisis in order to subvert a noble cause to self-interest. I doubt anyone with any scientific literacy believes that.

He mentions “an obscure theory dating back to the 1880s” that had not been proved in real earth measurements by 1940. I cannot determine from his column, but perhaps he is referring to studies based on Joseph Forier’s 1824 publication describing the “Earth’s Natural Greenhouse Effect” (the temperature of the earth can be augmented by the interposition of the atmosphere because heat in the state of light finds less resistance in penetrating the air than in re-passing into the air when converted into non-luminous heat).

Then, in 1861, Irish physicist John Tyndall showed that water vapor and other gases are responsible for the greenhouse effect. These are not “obscure theories” to those of us who depend on scientific method to study and explain our observations.

Spencer then goes on to attribute the modern “revival” of awareness of man-made global warming to Margaret Thatcher’s political wars with the Mineworkers Union. While there may be some factual basis to that conclusion, it really does not matter. What SHOULD matter to all of us is the very real, measurable, scientific proof of climate change.

We are rapidly reversing geologic history by burning fossil fuels and pumping the carbon from long extinct organisms into the atmosphere. Our excessive production of carbon dioxide is acidifying the oceans and increasing our global temperature.

About one-third of the 10 billion metric tons of CO2 we put into the air will dissolve in water and create carbonic acid. As acidification progresses, ocean plant life will die off, which will reduce oxygen production and loss of aquatic animal life. We have already lost nearly one-third of our reef-building corals and a very significant number of mollusks, sharks, rays, mammals and birds are heading quickly toward extinction.

Glaciers which have existed for several million years in Iceland are rapidly melting. Water now exists in liquid form on the Greenland ice cap for the first time in thousands of years. Massive areas of Arctic Sea ice have melted in the past 25 yeas. Obvious climate concerns including flooding, droughts, rising sea levels and rapid temperature elevation in the fragile high elevation ecosystem of the Andes are simply undeniable.

There is no subversion for personal gain as Mr. Spencer suggests. The crisis is not imaginary. The environmental movement does not need to “conjure up compelling reasons to justify its existence.” That statement is simply ridiculous and based on ignorance.

Every one of us needs to be a part of the environmental movement.

While Mr. Spencer and I will probably not live to experience the most horrible effects of climate change, those who follow us and depend on us for a safe future will.

Let’s get serious. “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” may be a cute Disney cartoon and it serves a metaphorical purpose for many of life’s dilemmas but it has no pertinence to climate science and environmental awareness.

Mark Zook

Reed City

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