A Feb. 18 letter asked Gazette readers to “do the math” to discover that humans aren’t responsible for rising CO2 [carbon dioxide] in the atmosphere. But the math shows otherwise.
According to the most recent data from sources such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is growing by 17 gigatons (Gt) — or billion metric tons — per year. Fossil fuel emissions, along with other human activities including destruction of forests, add 39 Gt of carbon per year. You may notice that human-caused emissions are more than twice the atmosphere’s growth. Why? Because land and ocean “sinks” are absorbing some of our emissions. But this isn’t free — there are dire consequences for ocean chemistry as more carbon soaks into our oceans.
The facts are clear: Humans’ carbon emissions are warming the planet and the climate is changing. Luckily, we have the technology to slow or prevent the most devastating consequences of climate change, if only climate-denying politicians and the fossil fuel lobby would wake up.
The writer is a professor of the Department of Biological Sciences at Union College.
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Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion