Interview on global warming, Lucy Chege, Victor Miguel Ponce

Interview on Global Warming

October 5, 2008

Questions by Lucy Chege, Northeastern Iowa Community College

Answers by Dr. Victor M. Ponce, San Diego State University

1.  What is your understanding of global warming?

There is a very strong correlation between the growing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the average warming of the planet's air.

2.  Briefly discuss how global warming started, or what triggered it? What are the causes and effects of global warming? Give dates if possible.

Global warming started when humans pumped out more carbon dioxide into the air than could be taken in naturally by vegetation. It started around the 1950s, when the use of fossil fuels became extensive and worldwide.

3.  What is your opinion on this issue?

My opinion is that we should replace nonrenewable (fossil) fuels with renewable fuels.

4.  What signs/facts are exhibiting the proof of active global warming? (Include examples)

The best example is the melting of the glaciers.

5.  The world is experiencing drastic changes in weather patterns. Are these a result of global warming?

There is no other explanation that makes sense.

6.  From your point of view, how serious is the issue of global warming?

Very serious; it threatens the very existence of the human species.

7.  Who is being affected? Which areas or ecosystems are most vulnerable?

Everybody, but mostly those individuals who are most sensitive to hot weather, i.e., those whose genes originated in temperate latitudes.

8.  World leaders seem to be shifting blame. Who is to take the blame?

Development is to take the blame... unsustainable development. And we have all been taught to pursue and welcome development.

9.  Explain briefly how each one of us affects global warming both positively and negatively.

When we use fossil fuels, we affect negatively. When we save on the use of fossil fuels, we affect positively.

10.  Whose responsibility is it now that the situation is here with us?

Worldwide, we should elect the politicians who understand the problem and will do something about it. In 2000 and 2004, we elected Mr. Bush, who did neither. So, we are to blame.

11.  What part should the world as a whole play in combating the situation?

The problem is worldwide, but those who use more fossil fuels per capita have a larger share of the blame. We have to get together in the United Nations to develop a concerted plan.

12.  What can you say to those who do not believe global warming is actually taking place and that it is a danger to our planet?

I would say to them: Would you drive your car if it had a great chance of exploding? The answer would be: No. Then I would say: Then, why do you insist that global warming is no problem, when there is a great chance of the world, as we know it, disappearing as a result of global warming? Do not experiment with the prototype!

13.  What should our society do to curb this problem?

Elect the right politicians at all levels. Change our culture of waste to a culture of conservation, even if it means less profitability. What will we do with our money if we disappear?

14.  What measures should be taken in dealing with global warming?

Societies should move away from a fossil fuel-driven economy to a renewable energy economy: Solar, wind, and to a lesser extent, because of their impacts, hydro and biomass. Natural gas is also fossil, so it will not solve the problem, even if we have large quantities of it. So is the so-called "clean coal." There is no clean coal or green coal; it is all fossil.

15.  How should the United States government handle the issue of global warming?

Implement regulation on the use of fossil fuels; move away from an oil-based economy; develop alternative energy sources such as solar and wind; learn to live with less (the fossil ride was fun while it lasted).

16.  What part should the Senate and Congress play respectively in this issue?

Become informed and act in a concerted, unified fashion.

17.  How do you think the public/society can be made aware of the problem our planet is facing? Who should be made aware of this problem?

The media has been doing a great job, but only in the last couple of years, since Al Gore released his movie "An Inconvenient Truth." The media reacted, as usual. Everybody should be made aware; it is everybody's problem. We are all in this together, and I mean all of us, Americans and everybody else. There is only one Nation: The human nation.

18.  What are the dangers awaiting the planet if this issue is not taken care of? Is there any hope of rescuing our planet from this mess?

There is no hope as long as there is ignorance about the issue. Even if we did something positive about it, everybody else (Chinese and Indians included) would have to do something positive too. We are one of only two nations that dragged their feet on the 1998 Kyoto protocol. Shame on us!

19.  How far positive or negative do you see our society in 10-20 years from now?

Negative; just look at the current candidates. For example, the Republican VP candidate has argued that we need to drill for more oil, that it is American to drill, etc. At least 40% of Americans are likely to vote for her.

20.  How far to the positive or negative do you see the planet 10-20 years from now?

The planet is in danger because the have-nots are now becoming haves and they are liking it (the case of China and India). When 2,300 billion people across the world live like we do, spend like we do, and waste like we do, they will dwarf any global warming that we may be causing. It is a matter of numbers.

21.  In conclusion, where are we now in safeguarding our environment? What are your fears concerning these issues?

Before societies act, they have to talk. The discourse is going on now; otherwise, you would not be doing this interview. I have been studying this issue for ten years now, and only recently have people begun to pay attention. Maybe it is because the hurricanes have hit. Katrina was a great lesson, and one that has gotten many running for cover. Now we have Ike, etc. Just think about what would happen if all the water in the ocean would evaporate all of a sudden, as if we had put it on top of the stove. This would not be Noah's Ark again; it would be 1,000 times worse. But there is one ray of hope: Given enough time, Good will always prevail. That is the way Mother Nature designed it.