Letter: Ignoring climate change has dangerous ramifications

July 28, 2017

To the Editor,

In 1775, Patrick Henry had this to say to his fellow Americans, “We are apt to shut our eyes against the painful truth. … Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for truth? Are we to be like those who having eyes see not and having ears hear not? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it might cost, I am willing to know the whole truth and to know it now.”

Darren Woods, the CEO of ExxonMobil as well as the CEO of Occidental Petroleum, encouraged President Trump to maintain a seat at the Paris Climate Agreement negotiating table. The day before Trump’s repudiation of the Paris Agreement, the shareholders of ExxonMobil delivered a stunning rebuke to the oil giant’s management. By a 62 percent majority, they voted to require the company to produce annual reports on how it will remain profitable in a future after governments respond to the science and limit oil and gas production.

At the same time, Timothy Wirth, who as Undersecretary of State negotiated the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that sought to limit global warming, said that those who deny the well-established science of climate change “ought to be tried for crimes against humanity.” He added that Trump’s repudiation of the Paris Agreement was a “stunning moral abdication of responsibility to future generations.”

As part of the on-going struggle for truth, the National Academy of Sciences had explicitly connected the war in Syria to the region’s savage drought and man-made climate change. Similarly, Al Gore noted that underlying the causes of conflict in Syria “was the worst drought ever measured in the eastern Mediterranean,” which lasted from 2006-2010. “That drought, long before the Syrian war started, destroyed 60 percent of their farms, killed 80 percent of their livestock, drove 1.5 million climate refugees in the cities where they collided with another 1.5 million refugees form the Iraq war.”

I, for one, wonder if Khalil Gibran’s 1934 words apply to America today, “Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years and whose strong are yet in the cradle.”

Richard Gallagher