Last week there were demonstrations in many countries attempting to raise awareness of the effects of global warming and the resulting changes in climate worldwide. The United Nations has included a Climate Action Summit as part of its General Assembly meeting starting this week. President Trump was not expected to attend the Summit this past Monday but did show up without giving any input. Trump has stated present day global warming is part of a natural cycle and not due to human activity. Trump ignores scientific facts published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which support the consensus that climate warming over the past century is largely due to human use of fossil fuels and the corresponding release of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. The following is taken from information I have read and which to me is a reasonable explanation of what we are currently experiencing globally.

NOAA data taken from ice core samples show that Earth’s climate has changed throughout seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat covering 650,000 years with carbon dioxide increasing and decreasing in parts/million but never exceeding 300 parts/million in the distant past. With the last ice age about 7,000 years ago and the accompanying growth of human civilization there has been a steady increase in the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. Since the start of the Industrial Revolution there has been almost a straight vertical increase in parts/million. In 1950 carbon dioxide exceeded 300 parts/million and currently carbon dioxide exceeds 400 parts/million emitted into the atmosphere. Because of the heat trapping nature of carbon dioxide, a steady increase in global temperature has resulted. Oceans which cover 70 % of our Earth have been absorbing most of the heat this past century and since 1992 the rate at which the oceans are heating up has nearly doubled with the heat penetrating deeper depths of the oceans. Because of the increased warming of the oceans polar ice and glaciers have been melting. With masses of ice melting there is less reflecting of sun light along with an increase of surface absorption of sunlight resulting in a continuing accelerated rate of melting. This melting ice is also releasing greenhouse gases which adds to the accelerated rate of warming.

From reports I have read we are at a point in our history where rising sea levels and extremes of weather will be the norm but we can slow down and eventually stabilize global warming if we make the commitment as human beings to make a major transfer from fossil energy to renewable energy sources in the form of solar, wind, biomass and ethanol. I believe there will be a need for petroleum based products but only on a much more limited basis

Leadership from many countries are recognizing global warming as a challenge to human existence on this Earth and the need to work together to reduce the effects of global warming. This is an issue that affects all people regardless of nationality, race, religion or politics. Here in Minnesota we have felt less affects but I think most older people would agree we have experienced greater weather extremes the past couple of years along with more gradual changes in climate. If we continue to simply ignore what 97% of the scientific community has researched and stated as fact we and future generations will be forced to live on a planet that is less habitable for humans and creatures and be forced to adapt to all the consequences created by a hostile environment. I believe we need leadership in this country that listens to facts and acts accordingly. What do you think?

Phil Heim of Medford, husband of Gail, is the father of four adult children, a son-in-law, hope-to-be daughter-in-law, and grandpa to three granddaughters.

Jeffrey Jackson is the managing editor of the Owatonna People's Press. He can be reached at 507-444-2371 or via email at jjackson@owatonna.com

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