Climate change the subject of Tupper Talk

Published 3:00 am Friday, April 20, 2018

Mike Mullen, a Choctawhatchee Riverkeeper and board member of Alabama Water Watch, was the program guest at the Brown Bag noon event at the Tupper Lightfoot Memorial Library in Brundidge Thursday. He has been involved in environmental advocacy in Alabama since the early 1980’s.

Mullen told the gathering at the library that the greatest threat to humanity, short of all-out nuclear war or possibly a new super pandemic is carbon dumping and “we are doing much too little about it.”

“Coal consumption is affecting the climate,” Mullen said. “The furnaces of the world are now burning about 2,000,000,000 tons of coal a year. When this is burned, uniting with oxygen, it adds about 7,000,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere yearly.”

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Mullen said this tends to make the air a more effective blanket for the earth and to raise its temperature.

“The effect may be considerable in a few centuries,” he said.

Mullen outlined the current effects of climate change and the list was rather long. A huge effect is the increasing of the frequency and severity of droughts and of strong storms and deluges with flooding. The effect of climate change will include increasingly powerful tropical storms, although perhaps no increase in the number of storms, he said.

“The beginning of the instability in Syria and the Arab spring uprisings in Egypt and elsewhere were, in large part, due to drought and wheat crop failure causing sharp price increases and famine,” Mullen said.

Sea level rise threatens major cities worldwide and low-lying lands and the millions of people who live there, he said.

The loss of glaciers and regular glacial melt waters that sustain many rivers and provide water for irrigation is a troubling effect of climate change.

“Estimates are that additional storms and flooding, disease, forest fires and food issues already are producing 300,000 deaths a year and, by 2030, could produce 500,000 deaths,” Mullen said. “And, these are low estimates. So, we all need to be concerned about climate change. If we continue to go about business as usual and don’t take steps to reduce carbon emissions, civilization could return to the Dark Ages and eventually the extinction of Homo sapiens.”