Friday, June 08, 2001

Tristate activist, professor say told-you-so on warming


They urge U.S. leaders to take action

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The complexity of weather patterns and the slow rate of climate change make global warming a tough sell to some people, from Fountain Square to the White House.

        But a report issued to President Bush by the National Academy of Sciences says global warming is real and is caused by mankind.

        That is the gospel Ned Ford has been preaching for more than a decade.

INFORMATION
More information about global warming and its effects
        Mr. Ford, the energy chairman for the Ohio Sierra Club, said the report is an overdue wakeup call.

        “I hope it will cause the administration, and the Republican Party as a whole, to pay attention to what the scientists are saying,” Mr. Ford said from his home in Hyde Park.

        Mr. Ford believes the president's energy plan, which calls for building at least 1,300 power plants in the next two decades, is misguided. He said energy efficiency is the way to provide power and reduce the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.

        “I'm interested in progress right now. We need to have an immediate goal of zero growth in emissions,” Mr. Ford said. “Then we can have fixed targets of annual reductions.”

        Mariam Kannan, a professor of biological sciences at Northern Kentucky University, has been teaching global warming to her students for 15 years.

        Ms. Kannan has done research in Ecuador, where glaciers atop the Andes have retreated hundreds of feet over the past 25 years. She is convinced global warming is real and hopes that the report will have an impact on U.S. policy.

        “The U.S. is one of the biggest contributors of carbon dioxide, so we need to take some leadership on this,” Ms. Kannan said.

        The mainstream scientific view of global warming says carbon dioxide is being emitted into the atmosphere faster than it can be absorbed by the oceans and plant life. As the carbon dioxide builds up, it traps shortwave radiation created when the sun warms the earth.

        Over time, that has caused the planet's temperature to rise.

        Not everyone buys that theory.

        Dr. Frederick Seitz, former president of the National Academy of Sciences and president emeritus of Rockefeller University in New York, wrote in an op-ed piece for the Philadelphia Daily News on Thursday that there are serious questions about the models scientists use to confirm global warming.

        Mankind may not be to blame, he said.

        Dr. Seitz said there is need for “better observations of conditions on the lands, oceans and in the atmosphere before drawing meaningful conclusions.”

        The Sierra Club's Mr. Ford said the rise in temperatures today are being caused by emissions from the 1960s.

        “That's the danger — the lag between the time we do something and the effect,” Mr. Ford said.

        “But we need to respond thoughtfully and reasonably. We can worry about how serious this is once we're doing something about it.”

       



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