The headline reads like a spoof from the Onion. Anyone who reads the newspaper or follows the many reports from the leading scientific organizations, like the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, already knows that global warming is real, and a real cause for concern. But don’t take it from me. Take it from a scientist, Richard Alley, Ph.D., of Penn State University, who explained the scientific consensus on climate change at a Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor’s Forum to a capacity crowd at bar headquarters on November 6. Richard is a glaciologist who is widely credited with showing that the earth has experienced abrupt climate change in the past—and likely will again, based on his study of ice cores from Greenland and West Antarctica.
Richard is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, and has worked with both organizations on published reports explaining the consensus on climate change. He served as one of the authors on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose members shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He has many other accomplishments in the area of climate science.
Richard began his presentation with the “skinny version of the program,” which is that “we enjoy the good that we get from energy use, which is now primarily from fossil fuels. We must change or suffer really really serious consequences and the sooner we start changing the better off we will be economically and in other ways. So you can now enjoy your dinner.”
The problem is the huge volume of CO2 we are now emitting into the atmosphere, many of us without realizing it, because CO2 is invisible. To illustrate the point, Richard asked the audience to compare the weight of household trash per person per year in America, which is less than 1,000 pounds, to the weight of CO2 put into the atmosphere per person per year in America, which is about 40,000 pounds. “This cannot continue,” he explained. “We are burning fossil fuels roughly a million times faster than nature saved them for us.”
CO2 blocks cooling, something science has known for a long time, and more CO2 will block more cooling of the Earth as it emits energy from the Sun’s rays. This is why, when asked if he “believes in global warming,” Richard responds: “We don’t believe it. It’s physics. And it’s physics like if I drop this pencil it will fall down. There isn’t another side of that.”
Anyone who could not make the program, but wants to learn more, should listen to this podcast of this Chancellor’s Forum. Among other things, Dr. Alley discussed the devastating consequences if we do not reduce CO2 emissions substantially and very soon.
It’s hard to overstate the seriousness of the issues if we can believe Richard Alley and the reports from the science community. Do we believe them? Listen to Dr. Alley and judge for yourself.