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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 6, 2010

Global warming devastation real, imminent


By Landis Lum

When I mention "global warming," the typical reaction I get is "Ho hum not on my radar."

Well, I'm scared stiff. You see, carbon dioxide in the exhaust of our cars, trucks, factories and power plants is entering the ocean at a million tons an hour, forming acid. On April 22, Congress was told this was occurring at an alarming rate ocean acidity could triple by 2100.

This dissolves coral and could cause extinction within 100 years. Half of all fish live among corals, so if reefs disappeared, catches of fish, oysters, clams, crab and other seafoods would nosedive, and species such as snapper could become extinct. Reefs would crumble and beaches erode. Nineteen percent of the world's reefs are already gone.

Carbon dioxide levels in the air are rising, causing global warming. Folks in Canada, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado see millions of acres of pine forests killed by a beetle that now survives warmer winters.

A warming Europe and Mainland will get more tropical diseases as mosquitoes and sand flies bring malaria and leishmaniasis there. There'd be lethal heat waves, famines and rising sea levels destroying coastal cities.

What about collecting carbon dioxide from coal plant exhaust (or from HECO's oil-using plants) and injecting it deep underground (carbon capture)? On Jan. 6, the Journal of the American Medical Association said this could acidify aquifers, leaching arsenic and lead into water supplies. Another worry: accidental releases through cracks or erosion.

Pure carbon dioxide is like poison gas. In 1986, 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide (a week's exhaust from a power plant) was released from a volcanic lake in Cameroon, killing 1,700 people. So, not in MY back yard!

It will soon be too late: permafrost covers vast areas (such as Siberia). Vast stores of methane, a greenhouse gas 26 times worse than carbon dioxide, could be released if the perma-frost melts, turbocharging the warming. In an epic book, "Whole Earth Discipline" author Stewart Brand notes that wind and solar energy would supply only 20 percent of our energy.

Enter nuclear power, which emits little carbon dioxide. Uncertainties about dealing with nuclear waste's long-term radioactivity and security pales in comparison to the certainty of suffering from global warming. Spent fuel from our 104 reactors are packed in dry casks that can survive plane crashes and can be stored for decades, by which time we'd have new technology for safer disposal. France gets nearly all its electricity from nuclear power and has little problem with safety or security its reactors are open for public tours.

For the sake of your keiki, buy hybrids instead of Hummers, reduce the lighting and the A/C, and read Brand's book.