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Joe Richardson, Fargo, Published August 12 2013

Letter: Commissioner dismisses the scientific concensus

I read with disappointment the opinion expressed by North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak in the Aug. 7 edition of The Forum.

Fedorchak laments recent “radical environmental policies” that are aimed at reducing emission of carbon dioxide. Fedorchak’s letter demonstrated a willingness not to inform but to disregard science, when she states, “I have serious doubts about the need to aggressively regulate carbon dioxide when the scientific community is so divided about our ability and even the merits of doing so.” She approaches deception when she casts the entire policy effort to reduce carbon emissions as being “a climate policy that half the scientific community disputes.”

The largest Earth scientist group in the country, the American Geophysical Union, said just days ago:

“… human-induced climate change requires urgent action. Humanity is the major influence on global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes.”

The American Association for the Advancement of Science as early as December 2006 said:

“The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now and is a growing threat to society.” In November 2007, the American Physical Society said “the evidence is incontrovertible: global warming is occurring. If no mitigation actions are taken significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur.”

In 2011, the National Academy of Sciences stated:

“Climate change is occurring, is very likely caused by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems. The environmental, economic, and humanitarian risks of climate change indicate a pressing need for substantial action to limit the magnitude of climate change and to prepare to adapt to its impacts.”

The American Chemical Society:

“Comprehensive scientific assessments of our current and potential future climates clearly indicate that climate change is real, largely attributable to emissions from human activities, and potentially a very serious problem.” And, there are plenty more such statements by reputable scientific associations.

Fedorchak is placing expedient partisan and special industrial considerations over the public interest. The point should not be to protect practices that almost all scientific associations and academies warn us we need to end, but to aggressively join with those who are exploring avenues for using our resources in a carbon-constrained future.

We are much more than merely a coal state and we have many resources that may become economic treasures if we can realize the power of leveraging them to fit the necessary evolution of related markets. Those who stand crying about the past in the path of an onrushing future, are lost.