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article imageOp-Ed: Global Warming and a high school science teacher: voice of reason Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Apr 11, 2017 in Environment
While the current presidential administration in Washington, DC causes controversy with its executive directives on the subject of climate change, the debate continues at the grass roots level. This is evident in a high school science teacher's 2009 book.
"What's The Worst That Could Happen" was written by Central High School of Oregon, physics and science teacher, Greg Craven. What initially had been a posting of videos on YouTube about the subject, eventually turned into a 230-some-odd-page book, with illustrations. The fact that much of the book was put together as a result of the banter back and forth in the news is a testimony that the subject has permeated every level of discussion, including local schools.
Craven simply wanted to help his students in providing a rational response to this issue. Which according to 'Scientific American' and other publications and forums is not going to just 'go away' with the wave of an executive orders from the President. The subject of global warming is a world issue, not simply a concern of environmentalists trying to get the attention of the U.S. Congress or the Oval Office.
What s The Worst That Could Happen? A Rational Response To The Climate Change Debate  by Greg Craven...
What's The Worst That Could Happen? A Rational Response To The Climate Change Debate, by Greg Craven.
Ben Gibson, courtesy of Perigee Books - The Penguin Group
The impact humans make on the planet and the immediate environment is not new. Ecological effects resulting from industrial waste, over-development, famine, etc. has been a part of the dynamic for some time. What has changed is the scope and depth; it is not simply a matter of being more "eco-friendly" as the saying goes. To deal with climate change effectively requires critical thinking and serious planning. And, of course to do that, requires cooperation. It is rather puzzling that people at the grass roots level understand it somewhat, why can't officials at the top level in Washington, DC get it?
Earlier this month 'Scientific American' noted that, a Quinnipiac University poll showed that 65 percent of Americans say they believe climate change is caused by human activity. This is something which the vast majority of scientists in the field concluded years ago, but American politicians (especially now with this current administration) have been slow to accept.
Even as more people express concern over global warming, the budget cuts proposed by Congress and other aspects of government continues. The elimination of federal money towards research is affecting not just one agency like EPA. The cuts to science and research spending are also affecting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and the Department of Energy, among others.
Much of the opposition to addressing global warming centers around the economy and political polarization on the issue. The dependence upon foreign oil, fossil fuels, etc. holds a bias over the minds of politicians. Even from an economic stand point, it would pay out over the long term to listen to science. Take a closer look at the tangible evidence all around. Craven talks about bias and the way our brains think, especially when confronted with a danger. Apparently, it seems the current administration does not see global warming as a present danger. The only threat global warming poses is a financial one and only in terms of cutting back or eliminating use of fossil fuels.
Leading economist Jeffery Sachs told Scientific American this past March that the executive order to stop addressing climate change 'would hurt the economy by damaging efforts to address climate change, which is already costly. And, it will become more costly over time unless we get it under control."
Sachs also told Scientific American, "We have plenty of wind and solar power, and access to hydro power from Canada and solar power from Mexico. Energy dependence on the Middle East should disappear as we move away from a petroleum-dependent economy. The idea that one needs to end the Clean Power Plan or methane regulations or open federal lands to coal mining has nothing to do with our energy independence or security."
What is very frustrating as this reporter sees it, from reading Craven's book "What's The Worse That Could Happen," is the 'bias' America has had towards use of fossil fuels. My question is when will use of fossil fuels end? Even in the early days of the automobile and development of electric power, the question of alternatives to using fossil fuels was always there.
Author  Greg Craven is a high school physics and chemistry teacher at Central High School in Indepen...
Author, Greg Craven is a high school physics and chemistry teacher at Central High School in Independence, Oregon.
Ari Denison, courtesy of Perigee Books, The Penguin Group (2009)
Yet more important is the fact that climate change is not just about use of fossil fuels. There is so much more involved and, again it is global, not just the American economy. Related issues like over-population, waste management, water management, food production and soil erosion are just a few of the many complicated aspects. If Sachs with his economic expertise has spelled it out in terms of money and the economy, then from a money point of view that should settle the debate, right? Why can't officials in Washington, DC see that? I guess it might go back to what Craven says in his book about "our glitchy human brains" and the bias they create.
The review in New Scientist perhaps sums it up when taking into account Craven's efforts. "Craven’s ingenious argument was that when it comes to global warming, the facts we fight over don’t actually matter. Far more important is that the experiment is already running. We will see soon enough who is right, but in the meantime, Craven believes we should analyse the situation using the tools of risk management."
To learn more about Greg Craven's book "What's The Worst That Could Happen? A Rational Response To The Climate Change Debate" and to purchase a copy check out the reviews and info on Google.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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