By Brian Maffly
14 May 2014
(The Salt Lake Tribune) – As a political conservative, Barry Bickmore didn’t want to believe warming of the planet is caused by humans and is a problem requiring government intervention.
But after reviewing the science that supports climate-change skepticism, the Brigham Young University geology professor said, he realized he "had been badly misled" by political leaders bent on thwarting policies aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
"Much of what I saw was unbelievably sloppy, leaving out whole packages of data that would undermine their conclusions," Bickmore told reporters gathered Wednesday.
HEAL Utah hosted the press event to bring attention to the emerging impacts of climate change and to call on the state to pursue climate-friendly energy policies. Headlining Wednesday’s event was Michael Mann, a leading climate scientist who heads the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University.
"Climate change is hurting us now in the United States whether you are talking about food, water, human health. It could be one of the greatest national security threats we face in coming years," said Mann, who is best known for a "hockey stick" graphic that shows a dramatic uptick in global temperatures in recent decades. "We are past the point where we can continue with a fake debate we have in our politics on whether climate change exists."
Opponents, including Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, argue the science is unsettled as to whether carbon dioxide emissions are the cause of climate change, and caution that policies targeting emissions may hurt the economy without providing a significant environmental benefit.
Joining Mann and Bickmore in front of Salt Lake City’s historic City Hall were University of Utah atmospheric scientist Court Strong and two city officials, water resources manager Laura Briefer and sustainability program director Debbie Lyons.
During the past century, humans have unearthed masses of carbon that nature spent 100 million years storing underground and injected it into the atmosphere in the form of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, released when fossil fuels burn. According to several reports released this year, the consequences are already being felt across the nation and the world and they will only magnify if emissions are not curbed. [more]