Letter to the Editor
Opinion section for 10/21
Recently, 16-year-old Swedish teen Greta Thunberg recently made national news when she
spoke at the U.N. and Congress. She is famous for her concern over global warming. The ice in
Greenland is melting much faster than scientists thought. And the same is true for ice in the Arctic and
Antarctica. If all the ice melts, all coastal cities would become submerged under water. Islands and
island nations would cease to exist. Perhaps 1 billion people would lose their homes and their jobs and
would be displaced. It would be a catastrophe like no other in human history.
An increase in temperature would also cause the ocean water to expand and cause more
flooding. And ice reflects some sunlight and heat back into space. Taking that ice away would cause the
earth to become hotter still. The total global temperature would rise about 4 degrees. The difference in
the global temperature of now and the past ice age is 5 degrees. Four degrees is a large jump.
But there’s more. Under some of the ice in the arctic is solid methane, which was produced by
rotting animals. If the ice over this would melt, this methane solid would be exposed to higher
temperatures and sunlight. It would sublime into methane gas and disperse into the atmosphere. But
methane is an extreme greenhouse gas, 20 times more insulating than CO2. It would warm the
atmosphere another 10 degrees. This would cause the ocean to expand and take up more volume and
flood over more land. And these two things would cause other effects, which in turn would cause
virtually all life on the planet to become extinct. This extinction would be very similar to Earth’s biggest
mass extinction, which occurred 250 million years ago.
Scientists and some politicians and a few others know about the extreme dangers of global
warming for 10, 20, 30, or 40 years. Some young people have been taught about it in high school. But
nothing has changed, and we are putting more carbon dioxide into the air than ever. If people had acted
earlier, this crisis would not be the crisis it is now. But crisis it is.