Carol Kuczora: Climate urgency | TheUnion.com

Carol Kuczora: Climate urgency

Do you grasp the urgency yet?

Some facts:

Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. Yet, it was constant for hundreds of thousands of years, in balance between emissions and absorption. It reflected just the right amount of solar heat to promote life. That is, until humans added carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by burning coal, oil, and natural gas. Then the concentration shot up, doubling and doubling in a rising exponential curve. Average temperature followed a parallel curve, as did population.

Methane, natural gas, traps 86 times as much solar heat as carbon dioxide over a period of 20 years, or about 26 times as much over 100 years. Thus, though it doesn't remain up as long, it is a frightfully powerful "greenhouse gas." Ruminant animals emit some, fracking emits much more, and massive amounts are sequestered in frozen Arctic tundra and at the bottom of the ocean.

The scary part: As the atmosphere and oceans warm, they release methane, warming the atmosphere and oceans, releasing more methane … in a runaway vicious cycle. That's the "tipping point," when humans can no longer turn it around. Scientists estimate we have 12 years to prevent catastrophe. Now!

Carol Kuczora

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