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Jim Chattin, Devils Lake, N.D., Published March 07 2014

Letter: Warming threatens the globe

Global warming is the biggest threat to human civilization. And the cause of this threat is humanity itself. Alarmist? Yes, and for good reason. But don’t worry, if you listen to the coal, oil or natural gas men or the politicians and “regulators” in Bismarck, there’s nothing at all to worry about! We are way too busy making too much money, providing a resource which we do need: electricity.

Besides, isn’t global warming some kind of trumped-up hoax? Isn’t it colder now than it’s ever been? Yes, it sure seems like it. In fact, it seems like the North Pole has shifted from where it should be to somewhere near North Dakota, it’s so cruddy cold. Plus, too much snow and ice and rain, all falling in places and at rates which are pretty abnormal. Not that it’s ever been this cold or snowy before – it has, just not all in one season over so much of the U.S.

The more gentle euphemism is global climate change. But the average result, on a global scale, is that the planet is warming, thinning-out the polar ice caps, melting the ice sheets of Greenland, and shrinking most glaciers. More water vapor is being released into the atmosphere making it more volatile, more unpredictable – more stormy (we were lucky last hurricane season but then there were the hundreds of tornadoes). More of the ocean’s dark-blue surface is being exposed to the sun’s warming rays for longer periods, shifting currents (and established weather patterns) in ways not yet understood, and raising ocean levels. Methane, another greenhouse gas trapped in the frozen tundra of Canada and Siberia and existing in huge inert amounts at the bottom of the oceans, is also being released in greater and greater quantities because of the increasing average warmth, and adding to that warmth.

As we continue to burn fossil fuels to create electricity, the impact of rising ocean levels will be catastrophic: Many Pacific and Indian Ocean islands, Bangladesh, The Netherlands, lower Florida (think Miami), the San Francisco Bay area, Virginia’s Tidewater, and every port on every coast on Earth will all be inundated.

Hundreds of millions of people will be displaced, and trillions will have to be spent in rebuilding infrastructure. But, hey, that’s one or two whole decades away; for now, North Dakota can make lots of money supplying as much coal, oil and natural gas as it can. And it’s cheap.