A recent guest column said that climate change is not a problem, citing the work of William Happer of Princeton University, as a contrast to the recent report of 155 Iowa scientists urging Iowans to take climate action (“Climate alarmists ignore critical data,” Jan. 11 by Fred Hubler).
Just so that readers know what scientists agree on, here is what Professor Happer told the United States Senate in 2009:
“Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased from about 280 to 380 parts per million over the past 100 years. The combustion of fossil fuels, coal, oil and natural gas, has contributed to the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere. And finally, increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere will cause the earth’s surface to warm.”
Happer went on to express his opinion that warmer temperatures and more carbon dioxide will be beneficial to humans. (His full testimony is available at www.epw.senate.gov.)
It would be fantastic if Happer turns out to be right, and further warming will not be harmful. But as Iowa’s scientists point out, climate change also carries with it real dangers such as changing weather and precipitation patterns, changing ranges of plants and animals, melting ice, rising sea levels and ocean acidification.
The prudent response is to cut greenhouse gas emissions quickly to slow down their buildup in the atmosphere and to prepare our communities and our country for future extreme weather, regardless of cause.
Sen. Rob Hogg