Reverse course before we can’t turn back

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Ninety-seven percent of the air we breathe is nitrogen and oxygen. Nitrogen is over 77% and oxygen is under 20%. Most of what is left is carbon dioxide. CO2 is about 2.5%. Then there are various trace gases which have roles to play with global warming, acid rain, and damage to the ozone layer. This complex mixture was stable for thousands of years until people began using coal, oil, and natural gas for fuel. No one knew about climate change at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

We do now. It took millions of years for plant materials to be compressed more and more until they were spread all over the planet. Some of this occurred near surface and some farther down, under land and under water.

These fossil fuels are a double edged sword. Much of our technological progress would be impossible without them. However the amount of carbon dioxide in the air has increased by 40%. All glaciers are melting. Ice shelves on Greenland and on parts of Antartica are also gradually melting. North Pole ice in the Artic is not only melting but in a few decades it will be gone. Russia is preparing for that eventuality. The exact timetable is uncertain.

The process is inexorable It is happening. It is necessary for the US and all of the countries of the world to be on board to slow, and some day reverse the onslaught of climate change on our environment and raising the temperature. The Paris Accords were a good first step. However few countries are abiding by the modest rules that were agreed to. Trump and his administration have dropped out of that and frown on all international treaties and other progressive measures. Our country will probably continue to move backwards until after the elections in 2020.

Deuel Woodward resides in Chula Vista.

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