By LIZ RUSKIN
May 22, 2006
"I am a little bit concerned when everything that is wrong is our fault, that the human factor creates all the damages on this globe," Rep. Don Young said during a debate on the U.S. House floor last week. "That is pure nonsense."
Rep. David Obey, D-Wisconsin, suggested Young sounded like one of the "charter members of the Flat Earth Society."
The Alaska Republican was working to kill a statement in an appropriations bill saying Congress agrees that people are contributing to global warming and that carbon emissions should be limited.
Young said we need "a good study" and a debate among scientists.
That launched Rep. John Olver, D-Mass., a former chemistry professor with a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on a mini lecture to explain the rapid accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the last 40 years. Sounding a bit like the late Carl Sagan, Olver spoke of the carbon dioxide record gathered from ice samples two miles deep in the Antarctic ice. The ice holds pockets of air trapped as long as 400,000 years ago.
"Suddenly, within the last 40 years, concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has smashed through the 400,000-year maximum of 280 parts per million to a 380 parts per million level and continues to rise," Olver said.
Another former educator, Rep. Wayne Gilchrist, R-Maryland, then continued the lesson, explaining how tiny increases in the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere could have big consequences on earth.
Young allowed that the earth may be warming in some areas, but "I just read a report, in fact, that Greenland is cooling."
NASA issued a statement in February that began: "The loss of ice from Greenland doubled between 1996 and 2005, as its glaciers flowed faster into the ocean in response to a generally warmer climate, according to a NASA/University of Kansas study."
The study was published in the journal "Science."
Young also told his colleagues that alarmists are too quick to blame America for the carbon emissions.
"It is always the fault of the Americans," Young complained during the debate. "It is never the fault of the bigger countries that burn as many barrels of oil as we are doing today - not per capita, but as many barrels of oil .... It is never their fault."
It was unclear what other big oil-consuming countries he was referring to.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States burned 20.6 million barrels of oil a day last year. The second biggest consumer, China, burned just under 7 million.
Young's steadfastness irked Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Washington, who thought Young, of all congressmen, should care, since Alaska is warming faster than the rest of the country.
"While Alaska melts away, their congressman will be down here in D.C.," Dicks said, "and everybody will be wondering, 'what ever happened to Alaska?' "
Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.shns.com
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