I read in the papers Wednesday morning that due to an ice storm, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality cancelled its committee hearing on “Climate Change: Are Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Human Activities Contributing to a Warming of the Planet.” Shortly after reading that, I was shoveling ice and snow off the sidewalk in front of my townhouse in Washington.
Not only in Washington was this ironic scene to be found, Maryville University in the St. Louis area had to cancel its premier screening of Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” due to a snow storm.
Debates on global warming are always very passionate with respected scientists on each side of the argument. I believe global warming or climate change to be cyclical in nature and not entirely man-made. Aside from monitoring the emission of carbon dioxide or others classified as “greenhouse gases,” we should recognize that there are patterns to our changes in temperature. Scientists have studied weather patterns throughout history and examined the composition of materials from deep beneath the ocean floor, all to search for trends.
Research shows temperature changes took place long before the Industrial Revolution. We have seen a warming trend since the last Ice Age, which took place some 20,000 years ago, and temperatures peaked in 1998 with El Nino. We are continuously in a state of peaks and valleys, and the next extreme change could be tens of thousands of years from now.
I believe in protecting our environment. I also understand that some things are out of our control. We will have powerful hurricanes, fierce tornadoes, and other such natural disasters regardless of the regulations we place on industry. I am not suggesting we shouldn’t make conscious efforts to maintain environmentally friendly business practices in our ventures toward market competitiveness. I am suggesting that the future temperatures of the planet do not rest on the shoulders of Al Gore, the Kyoto Protocol, or the combustion engine.
One thing is quite clear: the United States cannot save the environment alone. We need other developing countries to be proactive and work diligently to enforce environmental standards. In my travels to Korea, China, and Egypt, I visited cities where the pollution is so severe that it was necessary for some to wear a mask over their nose and mouth to avoid breathing in the putrid air. America can set the precedent, but unless other countries contribute, our efforts may not produce the desired results and instead be more costly in the business arena – leading to more outsourcing of American jobs.
Our climate has always changed and it always will; the best thing we can do is to prepare for it. For the good of the environment and American jobs security, let’s hope the new majority takes a sensible approach when creating legislation to combat climate change.