Monday, December 22, 2014

Editorial: South Dakota foolish to ignore global warming

Chemist Jihong Cole-Dai keeps a winter coat in his office at South Dakota State University in Brookings even in the hottest part of summer. He needs it every time he brings another section of ice out of a university deep freeze storage unit in order to melt it down and study the chemical make-up of the ice. “The question on climate change is whether it is happening and whether it is related to human activity. The clear answer to both questions from a scientific perspective is yes,” Cole-Dai said. “Essentially, humans have the ability to influence our environment in a big way, especially starting in the 19th century with the start of the industrial revolution.” Cole-Dai said burning of fossil fuels such as coal had side effects that are apparent in ice core samples from Greenland. “Starting from the 1850s, there is this clear tend of increasing sulfate amounts in snow samples,” Cole-Dai said. “That timing is clearly tied to the start of the industrial revolution.” [Lance Nixon, Mysteries in Fire and Ice]
The Industrial Revolution and European settlement in the New World took hardwoods for charcoal then humans allowed fast-growing conifers to replace lost forests.
If climate change is real, then South Dakota would be utterly foolish to ignore it. Without a doubt politics has been involved on both sides of the global warming discussion. But doubtless if Svante Arrhenius were alive today, that great believer in the power of humans to alter climate for the better would doubtless want his idea to be considered on its merits, not for his politics. [editorial, Pierre Capital Journal], links mine.
In the Mountain West vast tracts of land have been cleared by bark beetles where aquifers are being recharged: a practice well known to pre-Columbian cultures who burned forests to increase ungulate populations.

South Dakota's junior senator is waffling on climate change:
Notice something different about Sen. John Thune? “Climate change is occurring, it’s always occurring,” Thune said. “There are a number of factors that contribute to that, including human activity. The question is, what are we going to do about it and at what cost?” Thune now clearly comes down on the side of the vast majority of scientists when he acknowledges climate change. He even notes that man does contribute, in some measure, to climate change, and that it is something that lawmakers can affect. [editorial, Aberdeen American News]
Instead of science, politics determines how public lands are managed: the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming are prime examples. Ponderosa pine is extremely high in concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) yet it is routinely replanted because the timber lobby owns the Black Hills National Forest.

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