Gwynne Dyer’s column “Assisted evolution and geo-engineering” (Dec. 30, 2017) is exactly the right prescription for our battered planet, although as a chemist I believe that the increasing acidity of the oceans as they absorb more and more carbon dioxide as carbonic acid shares equal responsibility with rising temperatures for the destruction of the coral reefs.
A little bit of geo-engineering is what is needed, contrary to the views expressed in the letter from the so-called “International Climate Science Coalition” (“Watch what you’re calling pollution,” Dec. 30, 2017), which advocates for the rapid expansion of hydrocarbon fuel usage. These people object to using the word pollution to describe carbon dioxide emissions from hydrocarbon combustion: indeed, carbon dioxide is one of two expected products of such combustion, the other being water vapour.
But pollution is that which is harmful to man, animals, the environment. In their desire to dig up all the coal, tarsands, oil and gas as quickly as possible, they will inflict on us all much worse global warming pollution in the form of leaks of methane, or natural gas, a many-times more damaging greenhouse gas than CO2.
In addition, as former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s adviser Terry Tamminen wrote in “Lives per Gallon,” 2006, that burning gasoline/diesel is detrimental to city dwellers’ health because of the unburned hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide emissions, quoting from Jack Doyle’s “Taken for a Ride,” (2000, page 349) “one oil and auto industry lobbyist said that statistics of elderly deaths, related to air pollution, should not be counted because the subjects were going to die anyway.”
Now that’s pollution with no time delay!
Frank R. Smith