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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Our Planet May Have Already Passed the Tipping Point on Climate Change

[Published Jan. 30, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

By JIM SMITH, Realtor®

Each January, political leaders shower us with speeches on the State of the Union, the State, the City and other jurisdictions.  No one, to my knowledge, presents a "State of the Planet" speech, but if someone did, I suspect climate change would be topic #1 — and for good reason.

My friend and mentor, Steve Stevens, forwarded this chart showing the decline in late summer Arctic sea ice. If it isn’t a wake-up call regarding climate change, I don’t know what is.


I don’t have a degree in science, but I do understand it enough to know this chart’s significance.

If you have studied any science — or own an automobile — you know that white surfaces reflect solar heat, whereas dark surfaces (open ocean, for example) absorb it. The loss of sea ice does not just indicate global warming, it accelerates it, which makes one worry whether it’s already too late to reverse the effects of human-caused global warming.

Climate change deniers may celebrate the fact that the Arctic Ocean is becoming increasingly navigable in the summer, but they need to connect the dots between global warming and the whipsawing we now see in our day-to-day weather. 

I’d be curious to see the statistics on how many times the network news programs featured severe weather reports in 2013 versus previous years.  I can’t remember an evening in which weather wasn’t the lead -- or at least a major -- story. We in Colorado have suffered less than elsewhere.

Our earth’s climate has been de-stabilized. Had you heard of the "polar vortex" before this year?  I hadn’t.  The uninformed will say that our cold weather proves that the earth is not warming, but how na├»ve is that?  It’s global warming that is causing extremes, both of temperature and precipitation — which is caused by warming. I don’t hear them questioning El Nino, in which natural changes in ocean temperature affect climate.

Is there time to reverse this situation?  Maybe not.  But we certainly don’t have time to debate its existence with climate change deniers.

Rita and I are about to replace her gas-powered Lexus with an electric-powered Tesla.  Solar panels on our home and office will charge it as well as my Chevy Volt. These technologies are now proven.

We don’t do this for the savings alone, but because it contributes to saving our planet.

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