We Humans Restored the Ozone Layer and Defeated Acid Rain, We Can Solve Climate Change

Maybe to Mother Earth humans are nothing more than just a bad case of head lice, but as is the case with many a malady, ignoring an infestation in its early stages can only make things worse later on.Such as it is with climate change, global warming or whatever description one wishes to assign to the fact that the planet's climate is amiss. The ice caps are melting, the oceans are rising, the forests are flaming, the hurricanes are more horrendous, the subways of our coastal cities are flooding and Miami doesn't seem to stand much of a chance in the long run.The good news is that we've been here before and we know how to fix things, if we want to.We've actually proven to be pretty good at it.When the Earth's protective ozone layer was dangerously dissipating in the mid-to-late 20th century, our scientists were quick to realize that aerosols propelled by chlorofluorocarbons, and air conditioners relying on similar chemical cooling agents, were releasing too much polymethylbadstuff into the atmosphere, eroding the ozone layer that protects humanity from the most dangerous, cancer-causing radiation from the sun.So, we cut it out. And the world didn't end. Indeed, it got lots better. The ozone layer holes at the poles are closing, and the Earth is projected to reach a restored ozone layer equilibrium by the mid 21st century, a potential environmental catastrophe averted with little or no economic dislocations in the remarkably short time span of a single generation. I remember it going from imminent danger to relax-it's-all-under-control, all within my adult lifetime. That's pretty good shooting if you ask me, and I can still use hairspray if I want to and remain cool inside my home in blazing hot Texas high summer.Similarly, also through interstate compacts and international accords, we switched from burning high-sulfur coal to low-sulfur coal, virtually eliminating acid rain, which was poisoning our surface water, from small streams to the Great Lakes, in addition to eroding many of our statuesque buildings and monuments. If we hadn't taken these rather simple, cooperative steps, we probably wouldn't be now arguing over whether to remove Confederate monuments from our parks, because we likely wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a bearded Gen. Lee and a bearded Gen. Grant anymore, such was the deterioration.That solution is another example of how relatively small conservationist steps can achieve remarkable, positive environmental change in the course of a single lifetime or less.Climate change — or global warming, if you wish — isn't insurmountable. Small changes in the past have supplied enormous returns, and in unexpectedly short periods of time.Big-brained humans are pretty smart. We already know how to handle this. So, let's do it. Again.Randolph D. Brandt is a retired newspaper editor living in Plano. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.   Continue reading...

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