It's time to reduce global warming emissions

March 28, 2014 | 2:02 pm

Columnist Jennifer Hemmingsen’s April 6 column, “Time to focus on climate change,” hits the nail on the head. The topic of climate change barely shows up on journalists’ radar screens.

Part of the blame rests with the well-financed disinformation campaign waged by the fossil fuel industry, obscuring the virtual consensus of climate scientists that global warming is real and man-made.

Given our willful inaction in reducing our massive carbon dioxide emissions, we now enter a time of consequences. Here’s some of what we can look forward to this century.

Worldwide, temperatures will rise about 5 degrees Fahrenheit. With 70,000 deaths in Europe linked to a heat wave in 2003, expect exponentially higher death numbers because temperatures will be much warmer in the years ahead.

Sea levels will rise several feet, with consequences such as New York City subways turning into aquariums and San Francisco International Airport becoming a lake unless expensive countermeasures are taken. Coastal freshwater aquifers will become contaminated with saltwater.

At least one-fourth of all species on Earth will go extinct, unable to adapt to rising temperatures and loss of habitat.

Destructive insects such as the mountain pine beetle, now able to survive increasingly mild winters, will destroy millions of acres of pine forests in Wyoming, Colorado and Montana. Mosquitoes will thrive, and carry malaria to new areas of the globe.

The time to dramatically reduce global warming emissions from the burning of fossil fuels is now.

Frank Olsen

Cedar Rapids

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