Inconvenient misconceptions

Though no scientist, Al Gore raised awareness about the importance of reducing CO2 output.

Kya Marienfeld

I was ashamed to read Alex PongratzâÄôs Oct. 8 letter in The Minnesota Daily. For someone who represents a student group that supposedly educates on environmental and conservation issues to be so obtuse about global warming in this day in age is unbelievable. There are a few things that Pongratz discussed in his letter that I would like to re-open, for the benefit of setting the record straight. First, his statement that âÄú[Al] Gore scares people into believing the Earth is doomed because of human activity and wants us to believe we must take drastic action now in order to save our planetâÄù is overdone. Although Gore may not be the worldâÄôs leading climate scientist, he is a voice of the push to reverse the effects of climate change in America. His documentary helped to open the eyes of millions of Americans and foreign nations to the devastating effects unchecked human actions can have on the planet. Gore, unlike extreme right-wing pundits today, does not simply incite fear for the sake of making the people of this nation afraid. He gives us all a stern warning that our everyday actions have the potential to do great harm to this planet. GoreâÄôs message is not a message of fear, as anyone who has watched the entirety of âÄúAn Inconvenient TruthâÄù will realize. It is a message of hope âÄî a message of action. There is a reason that a great portion of the film focuses on âÄúwhat we can all do to fix it.âÄù I would challenge anyone to give a reason why turning off the lights when not in a room, recycling, riding a bike a few times a week or buying local foods are harmful for America. Scientist or not, Gore succeeded in making our country think a little harder about its actions, which I would always count as a success. Second, I would like to address PongratzâÄôs assertion that water vapor âÄî not carbon dioxide âÄî has a larger impact on EarthâÄôs temperatures. This statement is 100 percent correct, but the way that it was used âÄî to refute GoreâÄôs declaration that carbon dioxide is the most important greenhouse gas âÄî was misleading. What Pongratz fails to realize is that while water vapor has the biggest impact on global climate change, carbon dioxide, because of humansâÄô ability to actually do something about it, is the most important. Carbon dioxide emissions âÄî not water vapor âÄî have the potential to be cut in half in the next 10 years, which, regardless of carbon dioxideâÄôs subsidiary effect on global climate, would do wonders to stabilize and reduce the effects of climate change. I encourage Pongratz and the readers of the Daily to look into S. Pacala and R. SocolowâÄôs papers on the concept of âÄústabilization wedges,âÄù which illustrate the scale of emissions cuts and carbon mitigating processes needed to avoid future drastic change and reverse effects that we as humans have already caused. Not surprisingly, most of these strategies have to do with carbon dioxide, because regardless of its âÄúlesser effect,âÄù its reversibility makes it our key to slowing and stopping climate change. Kya Marienfeld University undergraduate student