Month 2, Day 25: They Live In A Pimple!

Just finished reading this, both depressing and frustrating. Casting about desperately for something to write and someone to write it to, I decided to take my pissy mood out on our newly elected Senator. It will be interesting to see his response. I bet I don’t get one.

I am going to send Kerry a copy of this, needless to say.

Dear Senator Brown,

I know that the Republican Party’s official position is that there is no such thing as global warming, and that this has been irrefutably proven by the recent snowstorms in Washington, DC. Because I am a Massachusetts resident, you’re my senator, and I need to give you some information; perhaps you may be able to use it someday.

The total surface area of Earth is almost 19,700,000 square miles. The total surface area of Washington DC is about 69 square miles. America’s capitol is 1/285,507th of the world’s surface. Not very much, is it? Let’s put it another way. An adult human being has about 20 square feet of skin, or about 1,858,000 square millimeters. 1/285,507th of a human body is about 6.5 square millimeters; a piece of skin slightly more than 2.5 millimeters to a side — the size of a zit. A small zit, at that.

Let’s look at the world outside Washington, DC. All over the globe, temperatures are rising. The worldwide average temperature has been steadily increasing for many years; perhaps you noticed that in Vancouver the winter Olympics had to import snow?  You may not have noticed that glaciers everywhere in the world are receding faster than climatologists have predicted; likewise, you may not have known that huge reserves of frozen methane in the Siberian arctic are now entering the atmosphere as the long-frozen permafrost “cap” begins to melt. Silly me. Of course you haven’t noticed these things: they’re not in Washington, DC!

While the laws of physics don’t care about the political posturing of U.S. Senators, they most definitely govern the behavior of greenhouse gases like CO2 (carbon dioxide) and CH4 (methane). And there is no disputing the fact that methane is even more effective at retaining the Sun’s heat in the atmosphere than CO2, the main focus of international climate concern for the last two decades. Although it decays more quickly, CH4 has a global warming potential more than 60 times as powerful as CO2.

To put it bluntly: if we don’t act decisively and aggressively to regulate CO2 emissions; if we don’t invest significant amounts of money in research on ways to capture methane before it enters the atmosphere; if we don’t recognize this as the gravest threat humanity has ever faced — our children and their children and their children in turn will live in an unimaginably different world. And they will curse us for our inaction.

Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that global warming is real, and that it’s largely caused by human activity. Three percent aren’t completely sure yet. Let me ask you, Senator: if you went to a hundred oncologists, and ninety-seven of them said you had cancer…would you take their diagnoses seriously?

As a Massachusetts resident, I expect you to act responsibly on the issue of climate change; I urge you to study the facts (which does not mean taking Sean Hannity’s word for it) and recognize the gravity of this threat. James Inhofe may make good television, but he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

cc: Sen. John Kerry

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