I’d like to respond to some assertions Ed Surgan made [“Evolving And Changing,” Letters, 27east.com] in response to a letter I wrote.
At the expense of a possible replay of Mr. Surgan labeling me elite (they tell me my dad was an elite bartender, but that’s the closest to elite I can come), I’d like to respond to some of his misleading assertions regarding climate change.
He writes: “Our weather is evolving and changing. It always has. Man may have some impact on it, but it is far from scientifically clear that we can do very much to actually change the direction our Earth is going in.”
Clarification: Weather is a daily event that can “evolve” depending on climate impacts. In Mr. Surgan’s introductory statement, he seems to confuse weather with climate. Sure, it could be sunny today and rainy tomorrow, because weather does change.
The issue is climate, or conditions that persist over time; thus, we on Long Island live in a temperate climate zone. What is changing is the rapidly accumulating amount of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere and what that portends for a changing climate.
If he means that climate is changing and it always has, he is right. The issues are what is changing about it now — the causes, at what pace, and is it detrimental to our well-being and maybe survival.
Predictions about climate change have existed for a long time — it is not a recent phenomenon.
When Mr. Surgan writes that “man may have some impact on it,” that is not fully accurate. It has been proven in many studies that man is significantly contributing to the accretion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Contrary to his views about human agency, we can do a lot to reverse these conditions. Happily, a lot is being done in our very own Southampton Town. I hope the Community Choice Aggregation program succeeds. I’m pleased that we’re swapping out incandescent streetlights with energy-efficient LED lighting. Our local Green Committee is doing great work, and the local chapter of Drawdown East End is actively educating the public and officials.
The issue between Mr. Surgan and me should not be if climate is changing and if the causes are manmade; the issue should be what actions should we take. Theoretically, I would lean toward a regulatory role, and, I would guess, he would argue for a more market-based role.
I urge everyone to spend some time researching the many ways that climate change is already impacting our planet: species decimation and habitat changes, extreme heat and drought, extreme flooding, changing migration patterns, and ice and permafrost melt. These are measurable natural phenomena — and they are rapidly changing.
We have no time to waste.
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