Hilton Head Ethics Society Seminar
Hilton Head Island Library
Wednesday, April 5, 3-4:30 p.m.
Neil Funnell moderated the session featuring presenters Dave DesJardins, research scientist in geophysics and oceanography, and Randy Tardy, civil engineer and transportation engineer, experienced in business development, international development and sustainable land development. Both used PowerPoint charts, graphs, images and texts to illustrate their talks.
Dave DesJardins’ case: The real question is what to do about climate and the resulting potential for disaster. Like the tobacco companies in the past, the fossil-fuel industries are masters at cherry-picking data to try to deny the facts of the science. However, 97.7% of the environmental scientists say “hell yes” the planet is warming at an accelerating pace. As carbon increases in the atmosphere, temperatures rise; on the basis of scientiﬁc study, that has been true for 400,000 years. Today the amount of carbon is twice as high as it has ever been.
We will have costs 1000 to 1 in the future. As the atmosphere warms, it holds more water; record droughts along with record ﬂoods, snows, hurricanes and storms of all kinds result. Higher ocean temperatures have killed 90% of the Great Barrier Reef, and they risk the release of methane hydrate from the bottom of the ocean. That methane would catastrophically raise atmospheric temperatures. A large fraction of the problem cannot be undone. He exhibited seven ways that things could go wrong fast.
Randy Tardy’s case: Saying he is a tree hugger and a historian with “no political agenda,” he pointed out that the record snow season in Michigan, his home state, occurred in 1979 with 390 inches and that 267 inches of snow fell this year. Ice Ages have occurred several times over half a million years even though there were no cars to emit carbon into the atmosphere. The Ice Ages ended because lightning caused forest ﬁres that threw vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and destroyed the carbon-absorbing trees. The year 1936 was remarkable for its terrible heat wave and also its terrible cold wave.
The thing to do is plant trees and drive hybrid cars. The Civilian Conservation Corps, created during the Great Depression, planted 484 million trees; we ought to do that now. Everyone wants to save the Earth as long as it doesn’t cost anything. We should go to clean coal technology to ﬁx the problem. One thing good about Obama is that he raised the miles-per-gallon requirements for the auto industry.
The audience was ready with many comments and questions:
Randy Tardy concluded by saying just as we build dams along the
Mississippi River, we can solve problems by engineering solutions. The Dutch know how to keep the ocean oﬀ the land.
Dave DesJardins concluded by saying we are on the edge of an uncontrolled experiment, and we have a moral imperative to try to turn it around.
This was a very controversial topic and well presented by both of today’s Speakers. Our thanks to Dave DesJardins and Randy Tardy for their well organized and clearly presented opinions on this ongoing current and sobering topic. Thanks also to Neil Funnell for moderating, to Marion Conlin for organizing, and to Fran Bollin for summarizing this month’s Seminar.