The Arctic is Melting, the Desert is Burning

Barbara Elkus

Senior Advisor, Clean Air-Cool Planet

I recently had the pleasure of working with the Norwegian Ambassador, Wegger Christian Strommen, on several climate events in New Mexico.  “Why do I do these events?” asked the Ambassador at a luncheon for 130 business leaders.  “Because Norway is close to where the action is, the ice is melting and the sea level rising and we know that something must be done.”  While noting that Norway is 2nd in exports of natural gas and 6th in oil, and that the carbon economy won’t end immediately, he talked about the need for increased renewable energy and global solutions to the problem. 

Two scientists presented information on climate change and related impacts.  Dr. Kim Holmén, Research Director of the Norwegian Polar Institute, discussed the impacts of a warming Arctic.  Of particular interest to me was the impact of the Arctic’s warming faster than the equator.  This changes water distribution in the atmosphere, and affects weather patterns all over the globe.  Dr. Gregg Garfin, Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona described the effects of increasing temperature and decreasing precipitation in the Southwestern United States.  Key changes are lower levels in water supply reservoirs, dying forests, increasing numbers of forest fires, and resulting increases in erosion.  Also, changes in precipitation quantity and timing will alter stream flows throughout the area.

A video by Dr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, economics advisor to George Bush and John McCain, made the business/conservative case for action on climate change.  He stressed the need action now to resolve uncertainty later and the importance of balancing the risks and the science – that the costs of doing something now and being wrong are much lower than the costs of doing nothing now and being wrong.  Dr. Holtz-Eakin also talked about the importance of a price on carbon.

Rafe Pomerance, Senior Fellow at Clean Air-Cool Planet encouraged listeners to support action.  His “to do” list included: continue to educate to create political will, develop a robust national policy, develop innovate policies at the state level, fund R&D efforts using both public and private funds, and take leadership, as a nation, to inspire the world to act.

I left New Mexico wondering once again why it is that, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence of impending climate change, so many of us are unwilling to acknowledge the facts and the need to take immediate action.

Explore posts in the same categories: Arctic, climate change, Climate Change Skeptics, Climate Science, environment, Global Warming, government planning, international relations, Planning, Policy, sea ice, surface temperature, Uncategorized

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