Comment from Detman, Thomas R.
Sometime during the 1970's, Saudi Arabia's oil minister, Sheikh Ahmed Azki Yamani, reportedly said: "The stone age did not end for lack of stone, and the oil age will end long before the world runs out of oil." [OnEarth, Fall 2009, p54.] According to a paper published in Science, and reported on in the Oregonian on 2006-01-02, page B8: The concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere is 27 percent higher now than at any time in the last 650,000 years. Rising CO_2 from fossil fuels is linked to sea level rise, snowmelt, disease, heat stress, severe weather, droughts, and ocean acidification. Ocean acidification threatens the foundation of the ocean food chain. According to a paper published in Geophysical Research Letters (Jacobson, doi:10.1029/2007GL031101, 2008) these factors independently feedback to increase ground level ozone concentrations, which irritate the respiratory system and can harm lung function. He found that each 1 deg. C rise in temperature may increase US annual air pollution deaths by about 1000. About 40% of these are from higher ground level ozone concentrations; the rest are likely from particles. We, the people of planet Earth, are taking our planet into uncharted shoals. There is far more coal and oil left in the ground than we dare try to use. At this point in our evolution, fossil fuels are a dead end. The sooner we can turn around and begin in earnest to develop and transition to alternatives, the better off we will all be. With the human population now approaching 7 billion, and nearly every ecosystem on our planet under stress, a mass extinction event in progress, we are heading for a crunch. I would really like to believe the United States, and Oregon in particular, has the brains, and the heart to help lead the world toward a better future.