Tom Crouser: Cousin Charles and climate change (Opinion)

To deny climate change is to deny laws of physics. Instead of refusing to believe, we Republicans should engage in the debate. Otherwise, we’ll live with whatever solution is developed without us. As for the issue’s proof, I rely on my family’s resident expert, cousin Charles. Allow me to explain.

Charles Bayless is former CEO of two major power companies, Tucson Electric Power and Illinois Power, as well as past president of West Virginia University Tech. He also happens to be my cousin. At one time during his illustrious career, he ran a utility-funded group trying to disprove climate change. Why? Because it was in the best interest of power companies if fossil fuels could remain a significant source of power generation.

“With the budget we had, don’t you think if we could have disproven climate change, we would have done so?” he’s said.

Now, this son of my father’s sister came from a rock-ribbed Republican household. But neither his mother, nor my father, would ever allow political feelings to trump facts.

You can read Charles’ most recent post, “Climate Change–Physics 101,” at Energy Center Power Industry Network (go to energycentral.com and search for “Bayless”).

Now, here are some basics as I understand them.

Energy can’t be created or destroyed, only changed from one form to another or transferred from one object to another as taught in middle and high schools.

Heat is the flow of energy from a warm object to a cooler object.

The sun radiates energy, hits the Earth, lights our days, heats us and creates weather systems. The Earth also releases energy through radiation as an asphalt road does at night.

But more energy comes in than goes out. Our atmosphere forms a blanket of gases that not only protects us from excessive heat and radiation, but traps heat, keeping us warm. Of course, too much warmth and we’ll be like a dog in a car with the windows rolled up.

It took a long time to warm the Earth, however. The Earth and the moon are roughly the same distance from the sun, yet the moon is zero degrees Fahrenheit and the earth has warmed throughout time to 57 degrees. At least that was true in 1750. In 2019, we’re at about 59.9 degrees.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration says recent warming, “... is extremely likely (greater than 95 percent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century” and increasing at an unprecedented rate.

Our temperature ultimately depends on the atmospheric level of carbon dioxide. In 1908, Nobel Laurette Svante Arrhenius found that doubling the percentage of CO2 in the air raises our temperature by 4 degrees. Increase CO2 four times and it increases temperatures by 8 degrees. Currently, we are injecting about 2.7 million pounds of CO2 into our atmosphere every second.

So what?

The Environmental Defense Fund notes three critical aspects of global warming. First, more heat alters ice, weather and oceans, resulting in higher sea levels and more acidic oceans. Second, human life and prosperity suffer through shifting weather and unpredictable water supplies, affecting agriculture and more. And third, natural habitats become hostile.

Who believes? Two-thirds of Republicans (2018 Monmouth poll) acknowledge that climate change is happening, yet only 13 percent agree with NASA that it is caused mainly by human activity.

However, 51 percent of Republicans supported government action to reduce activities that cause climate change and sea level rise.

Like what? Iceland developed one method of carbon capture and sequestration by injecting CO2 in porous basalt rock formations. Once trapped, the CO2 can’t leak.

It’s not a silver bullet, doesn’t solve all problems, and it’s expensive. But, it’s a hopeful step. In the meantime, we should reduce emissions. And we Republicans should engage in the debate with facts, not feelings. Ignore it, and whatever happens will happen.

Tom Crouser is a business consultant

living in Mink Shoals

and a Gazette-Mail contributing columnist. Reach him at tom@crouser.com

or follow @TomCrouser on Twitter.

Funerals for Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Dotson, Jeffery - 7 p.m., Good Shepherd Mortuary, South Charleston.

Kees, Nancy - 11 a.m., Salem Road Freewill Baptist Church, Oak Hill.

Payne, Arless - 5 p.m., Taylor-Vandale Funeral Home, Spencer.

Taylor, Connie - 11 a.m., Memory Gardens, Low Gap.

Taylor, Joseph - 11 a.m., Gauley Bridge Baptist Church.

Williams, Nellie - 1 p.m., Pineview Cemetery, Orgas.

Yates, Ruth - 11:30 a.m., Sunset Memorial Park Mausoleum, South Charleston.