Brennan: Do what’s doable on climate

By Tom Brennan |

President Donald Trump is taking a bunch of flack for his refusal to believe the latest report on climate change.

He brings a lot of such criticism on himself with the way he handles such things, but a lot of thoughtful people have reservations about the report’s conclusions. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to deny that human-caused global warming is happening but a lot of the argument these days is about how serious the problem is and what can be done about it.

The mainstream news media are jumping all over Trump’s avowed disbelief in the report’s findings. That comes as no surprise but the reality is that people all over the world should be considering what their activities are doing to the planet and how they can make things better.

I’m at the age where long-range planning is figuring out what I will be doing in February. But I do have children and grandchildren and I worry about the kind of world we are creating for them. Hopefully they and their friends and all their extended families will be enjoying this planet for many years to come. But, if that is to be, some changes are in order.

The debate over human impact on the planet has been going on in academic circles for centuries. It really got onto the public agenda in the 1960s when Americans got tired of seeing roadside trash and launched campaigns to clean up litter and recycle everything that could be reused in one way or another.

In 1982 the litter problem was tackled here by Alaska’s business community and civic leaders, resulting in the formation of Alaskans for Litter Prevention and Recycling (ALPAR) which has been quite successful in drawing attention to the problem and motivating people across our state to do something about it.

The global warming problem is another worrisome public issue and it deserves thoughtful attention. Unfortunately the matter of humankind’s massive impact on the planet’s temperature got off to a rocky start when the movie An Inconvenient Truth was made from Al Gore’s slide show on the subject.

Gore had already been spreading what he considered gospel on the issue, but when many people saw the movie they assumed it was just liberal propaganda from a former Democratic vice president. And then hordes of scientists jumped on the bandwagon, swearing to the film’s accuracy.

Many conservative critics, myself included, wondered whether the academic clamor might be partially a stampede caused by the smell of research grants in the air. I know that is an unfair characterization for most of those who joined the chorus, but I’m sure it must fit at least a few, if not more. The stampede was unseemly, to say the least.

We in Alaska are seeing the effects of a warming planet and have been for a long time. Senator Lisa Murkowski laid some of them out in her response to President Trump’s announcement that he didn’t believe the warnings contained in the National Climate Assessment released on Black Friday.

A Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reporter said Murkowski urged that the debate be changed from whether global warming exists to what we are going to do about the growing impacts from human activity on the climate. And despite my lingering skepticism about some of the claims, I am as certain as I can be that human activities are having a deleterious impact on the planet, its lands and oceans, and on its weather.

Murkowski added: “There are areas of bipartisan support that we have been working on (in Congress) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainability such as innovation, efficiency and adaptation.”

Murkowski and the other two members of Alaska’s congressional delegation are well aware of the problems being encountered in various parts of this state from changes in weather, climate, oceans and our land areas.

They need to do whatever is doable in Congress and hopefully research can be funded by both Congress and the private sector to find effective ways to reduce the climatic impacts from using fossil fuels. Oil and gas, after all, are Alaska’s most important product and the foundation of its economy.



2 Responses to Brennan: Do what’s doable on climate

  1. Mat Brown (Massachusetts Liberal) December 3, 2018 at 5:58 am

    Outstanding review of a problem that has been politicized by opposing pressure groups. ‘Conservatives’: read this!

  2. Observer December 4, 2018 at 8:13 am

    Even if the relationship between carbon emissions and climate were crystal clear, which it is not, the VAST majority of carbon emissions occur in places like China and India. What happens in the US and Alaska barely moves the needle and, by the way, carbon emissions in the US are on the decline. Under these circumstances it makes no sense to inflict harsh changes and costs on anyone or any industry in the US or, pray tell, Alaska. IMO, those demanding such measures have completely lost their minds.


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