Outside editorial: Addressing global warming requires change on all fronts

Posted: Thursday, February 15, 2007

This editorial appeared in the Kansas City Star:

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Getting everyone on the same page as to the cause of global warming - or even its existence - is no small feat. The latest report by scientists involved in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change could move much of the world closer to consensus.

The panel's conclusion: Global warming is real and most likely caused by human activity, specifically the burning of fossil fuels.

Polar ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, and hurricanes are getting stronger - all the results of climate change. If greenhouse-gas emissions aren't lowered from current levels, things likely will get worse, not better.

The report presents a particular challenge because it states that no matter what is done, global warming will continue for centuries. But the question of whether to try to ameliorate its effects remains. President Bush and others oppose strong regulations on the basis of exaggerated claims that they would send the country's economy tumbling, to the benefit of other, lesser users of energy.

Without U.S. involvement in a solution, not much will get done. Solutions exist that the president and others are reluctant to recognize. Serious development of solar, wind, certain biofuels and other sources of energy would reduce greenhouse gases and American dependency on foreign oil. Decreased energy consumption and higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars eventually would help.

In Washington, the Democrats have signaled that they would be more interested in global warming than the administration and the previous Congress. That is good, but political game playing will not be a solution. Real action is needed.

With or without strong federal leadership, local communities must step forward.

Some of the tougher options for offsetting climate change will depend on the public's willingness to sacrifice. Leadership from elected officials, business executives and concerned individuals would help build public support for the effort.

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