Forum discusses climate change

By Cameron Griffin | @KyKernel

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Experts addressed the climate change issue in relation to faith values, national security and free enterprise Thursday night at a forum in the Student Center.

Showtime was in attendance taping the speeches for a documentary called “Years of Living Dangerously,” which will air in early 2014.

Paul Vincelli, an extension professor within the UK Department of Plant Pathology, described the event as a way to give students and others a different perspective on climate change, rather than bland scientific views.

The first speaker was Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist from Texas Tech University, who discussed the issue from the perspective of values anchored in faith.

“Science is full of facts, but we need our values to help us decide how to interpret them,” Hayhoe said. “Most Christians believed that God created Earth and it was good from there, but that is not the case anymore.”

Hayhoe said the Bible tells people to love their neighbors and self, but contributing to climate change is not a way of loving others.

“The data is there, the facts are there, yet others choose not to believe climate change as a problem. The temperature on Earth has raised 1.5 degrees in the recent year, increasing the chance of flooding and drought,” Hayhoe said. “Our assumption that the climate will go back to normal is not an applicable assumption anymore.”

Hayhoe said people have been increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air by digging up coal, gas and oil since the Industrial Revolution, and this has been a contributor to climate change.

The second speaker was Brigadier General Steven M. Anderson, a 31-year member of the U.S. Army, who discussed climate change in relation to national security.

“Our overreliance on oil constitutes the greatest threat to our national security,” Anderson said. “One thousand Americans have died protecting our oil lines and moving it from point A to point B.”

Anderson also said that for every 20 trucks carrying oil, there are 175 soldiers protecting it. We need an environment that stimulates a green economy and uses renewable resources, he added.

“For the first time ever, we are funding both sides of the war,” Anderson said. “Fuel is what is funding war assets. One billion dollars is given to Iran each day in which they use that money to make bombs to harm Americans.”

Anderson believes the country needs a department of defense energy reform and need to start using more solar panels, wind energy systems, hydroenergy systems, geothermal energy systems and waste-to-energy biomass systems to stop being so reliant on non-renewable resources.

The final speaker was Bob Inglis, who was a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and founder of the Energy and Enterprise Initiatives. Inglis presented possible solutions to climate change grounded in principles of free enterprise.

“We need a true-cost comparison between all fuels and the result of that, we believe, is that free enterprise will solve our energy and climate change challenge,” Inglis said.

Inglis said that fossil fuels get away with a lack of accountability in their prices, and true cost comparison is necessary to identify these hidden costs for oil.

“Sustainability is like profit; making a profit is sustainable and not making a profit is unsustainable, and we need a sustainable future,” Inglis said.

Each of the speakers had the same message to give everyone, which is that climate change is real, and something needs to be done to minimize its effects sooner rather than later.