Nov 082006
 
Authors: Luci StorelliCastro

Last winter, the CSU club soccer teams attended a tournament at Glenwood Springs. Throughout the course of their stay, it was more than evident that they were in one of Colorado’s famous ski niches. The weather was brutally cold, piercing through even the heftiest of layers. On the last day, the beastly weather culminated into a rather severe snow storm, cutting the tournament short.

The ride home was an adventure by some accounts, but a nightmare by most standards. Some players were forced to take refuge in a nearby town, while others left their cars abandoned on the highway and piled into better suited vehicles for dealing with snow conditions. As one of two players that rode in the trunk of a 4×4 with heaps of dirty soccer uniforms and sweaty shin guards, this was one of those experiences that will forever be forged in my memory bank.

This year, the weather could not have been more different. Although the tournament was held during the same period, it was sunny, warm, and not one threatening cloud hovered above. Talking with the hotel receptionist, she commented that the community was worried about how the warmer weather conditions would adversely affect the ski industry – a major source of income for the town. Moreover, she mentioned that the risks of fires in the region had increased significantly.

What a difference a year can make. This is just one example close to home that climate change is afoot. There are, of course, more compelling indicators like rising sea levels, melting glaciers, rampant forest fires, changing see temperatures, the upward migration of vegetation zones (check out http://www.nrmsc.usgs.gov/research/glacier_model.htm for an amazing animation of this), increasing pest problems at higher elevations, and the list goes on.

I hate to present a doomsday scenario, but if we don’t address this problem with more urgency, sooner rather than later we can expect to put polar bears under the list of extinct animals, ski on patches of rock instead of snow, and do some underwater snorkeling of Venice.

Although there is clear evidence of global warming and the negative spillovers attributed to it, a good portion of the American public is still skeptical of this phenomenon.

A recent study released by the Pew Research Center shows that 20 percent of Americans believe there is no solid evidence of global warming, with another 10 percent undecided about the issue. Even amongst the 70 percent of Americans that agreed there is evidence of global warming, there was not general consensus on what the cause might be; 41 percent cited human activity as the primary culprit, 21 percent pointed to natural patterns, and 8 percent were undecided.

The study also found that the American public is divided over the gravity of global warming, with only 19 percent exhibiting a great deal of concern and 47 percent indicating that they were only a little or not at all concerned with the problem of global warming. Out of the industrialized countries surveyed, the United States ranked lowest on expressed concern for global warming – beating out countries like Indonesia, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Nigeria, Pakistan, India, and China.

For a country that emits 25 percent of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, yet accounts for only 4 percent of the global population, I can see why acknowledging that global warming is occurring and presents a grave problem would be considered one of those pesky “inconvenient truths.” To add to matters, there are still a lot of influential skeptics in high places (one in particular resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave).

Personally, I find it inconsistent that, under the public eye, global warming skeptics are not tarred absurd and delusional much like other camps of skeptics that deny the Holocaust ever happened or that smoking causes lung cancer. Global warming is a fact – and it’s time we start treating it as such.

Luci Storelli-Castro is a junior political science and philosophy major. Her column runs every Thursday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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