The Edmond Sun

August 27, 2013

Policy makers answer climate change question

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

OKLA. CITY — Congressman James Lankford shared his opinion about climate change at a forum recently that addressed regulatory issues involving the Environmental Protection Agency.

The forum was sponsored by the Oklahoma chapter of Americans for Prosperity Foundation.

The question of climate change was posed to Lankford along with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and William Yeatman, assistant director of the Center for Energy & Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.

Lankford recalled going on a geological field trip when he was a secondary education student at the University of Texas. He found a shark’s tooth buried 3 feet under the earth’s surface, he said.

“I don’t know the last time a shark came up to Austin and died,” Lankford said. “But I’m fairly confident it wasn’t in the industrial era and wasn’t caused by man-caused global warming.”

The earth’s climate changes, Lankford said. Geological evidence shows glacier movement on the planet, he said. A cynical generation will result from the battle over whether mankind adds to climate change, Lankford said. He predicted that future generations will recognize that the climate change predictions being made today for 2020 and 2030 were wrong.

“The fight is now over some percentage of 1 degree and what part is man. What part is us exhaling literally on the planet and putting carbon into the environment?” Lankford said.

According to NASA, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities. Most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position, according to NASA.

This is also supported by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the American Meteorological Society. These scientists also agree that human pollution behavior contributes to climate change while accelerating its impact. They do not disagree that climate change has happened before.

Regarding climate change, Pruitt said he is concerned with the EPA’s action and that his office is watching the federal agency.

“We’ve had lawsuits filed against the EPA saying that they should be taking steps to basically engage in a carbon emissions tax — and to basically implement that which Congress hasn’t passed with respect to carbon emissions,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt said his job is to make sure that laws are upheld as policy decisions are made.

Yeatman said that he does not often deal with the issue of climate change. His focus is on regulatory issues concerning clean water and air.

“As for climate change, I do allow that climate is changing. However, I don’t care,” Yeatman said. “I care about breast cancer. I care about mental health issues. I care deeply about poverty and alleviating it. I don’t care any about one-and-a-half to 2-degree temperature increase 100 years from now.”

After the presentation, Sierra Club representative Whitney Pearson said it is unfortunate that Yeatman said he does not care about global temperature potentially rising by 2 degrees.

“People already are seeing the real impacts of a changing climate and what climate change can do to their actual communities,” Pearson said. “With extreme storms and extreme weather, we’ve seen it all across the country with drought, fires and stronger hurricanes than we’ve ever seen before.”

Rueters in July cited a scientific study published in the journal Nature, which stated that Arctic methane release by melting sea ice could cost the worldwide economy $60 trillion. Researchers at the University of Cambridge and Erasmus University in the Netherlands had calculated the consequences of a 50-gigatonne reservoir release of methane from permafrost thawing under the East Siberian Sea. Scientists have warned of crop failure this century unless global average temperatures stay within a 2-degree Celsius increase.

Rueters reported that a June report by the International Energy Agency indicated the earth is heading to an average temperature rise of 3.6 to 5.3 degrees Celsius, based on worldwide carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions last year.

However, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported recently that energy-related carbon dioxide emisions declined in the U.S. last year. The largest drop in emissions came from coal, due to the increased use of natural gas, the report stated (http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=10691).



jcoburn@edmondsun.com | 341-2121