|U.S. PUBLIC INTEREST RESEARCH GROUPS|
U.S. PIRG describes itself as an organization that "speaks for the public interest against the special interests, on issues in the news and below the surface. When consumers are victims of private greed, U.S. PIRG is there; when average citizens suffer from the absence of government attention or an excess of government bureaucracy, U.S. PIRG is there; when our natural environment is threatened, U.S. PIRG is there. As a public interest watchdog organization, we uncover dangers to public health and wellbeing and fight to end them, using the time-tested tools of investigative research, media exposes, grassroots organizing, advocacy, and litigation. We deliver persistent, result-oriented public interest activism to achieve real change that improves the quality of our of our environment, of our government, and of individual lives."
"The state PIRGs created the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) in 1983 to act as watchdog for the public interest in our nation's capital...much as PIRGs have worked to safeguard the public interest in state capitals since 1971."
"Our organization's roots at the state level, and U.S. PIRG members across the country, give us a unique "outside the beltway" perspective and provide the grassroots power necessary to influence the national policy debate."
Views On Global Warming
SOURCE: The U.S. PIRG Online, Global Warming Web Page (URL: http://uspirg.org/uspirg.asp?id2=5235&id3=USPIRG&)
HOW GLOBAL WARMING WORKS:
Gases in the Earth's atmosphere act like glass in a greenhouse-trapping heat and making life on Earth possible. But there is a delicate balance. Burning coal, oil and natural gas increases atmospheric concentrations of these gases. Over the past century, increases in industry, transportation, and electricity production have increased gas concentrations in the atmosphere faster than natural processes can remove them leading to human-caused warming of the globe.
THE SOURCE OF GLOBAL WARMING:
The major source of global warming is carbon dioxide pollution from power plants, automobiles, and industry. Another source is global deforestation.
- Power plants are responsible for more than a third of U.S. CO2 emissions, yet there are no caps on CO2 emissions from power plants or any other industry.
- Gas guzzling cars and light trucks are also responsible for a third of U.S. CO2 emissions. Current regulations allow for very inefficient vehicles which spew tons of CO2.
- Trees remove carbon dioxide from the air as they grow. When they are cut and burned that CO2 is released back into the atmosphere. Massive deforestation around the globe is releasing large amounts of CO2 and decreasing the forests' ability to take CO2 from the atmosphere.
Recently, alarming events that are consistent with scientific predictions about the effects of climate change have become more and more commonplace. The global average temperature has increased by about 1°F and sea level has risen by about 10 inches in the past century. Official confirmation came in 1995, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an officially appointed international panel of over 2,500 of the world's leading scientific experts, found that "...the balance of the evidence suggests a human influence on the global climate."
The following are events which [are]consistent with scientists predictions of the effects of global warming:
- The past two decades have witnessed a stream of new heat and precipitation records. The 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1980, the hottest year ever on record is 1997, and the hottest January through July on record occurred in 1998.
- Glaciers are melting around the world. There has been a 50 percent reduction in glacier ice in the European Alps since 1900. Alaska's Columbia Glacier has retreated more than eight miles in the last 16 years while temperatures there have increased. A section of an Antarctic ice shelf as big as the District of Columbia broke off. Some scientists think this may be the beginning of the end for the Larsen B ice shelf, which is about the size of Connecticut.
- Severe floods like the devastating Midwestern floods of 1993 and 1997 are becoming more common.
- Infectious diseases are moving into new areas as seen in the recent outbreaks of Dengue fever in Texas and Malaria in New Jersey.
The Global Climate Coalition, a powerful coalition of oil, power, and auto companies has followed the lead of tobacco companies by denying the harm they cause. They have spent millions of dollars trying to discredit the scientific consensus of the IPCC and slow steps to combat global warming. The public has not fallen for their deception, but the Global Climate Coalition appears to have had some impact on members of Congress.
Among the members of the Global Climate Coalition are: American Electric Power Service Corporation, American Petroleum Institute, Amoco, Chevron, Chemical Manufacturers Association, Chrysler Corporation, Dow Chemical Company, Duke Power Company, Edison Electric Institute, Exxon, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Illinois Power Company, Mobil Corporation, National Association of Manufacturers, National Mining Association, Texaco, Union Carbide, Union Electric Company, and Western Fuels Association.
1. Health Risks
What scientists predicted
Rates of infectious disease will rise, with the spread of mosquitoes and other disease-carrying organisms that thrive in warm, wet climates. More frequent and more severe heat waves will pose a threat to public health, with children and the elderly especially vulnerable.
In the 1990s, outbreaks of malaria have occurred in Michigan, Texas, Florida, Georgia, California, New Jersey and New York. In 1999, on a camping trip on Long Island, two Boy Scouts were infected with malaria. Two major heat waves-in Chicago in 1995 and Dallas in 1998-killed more than 600 people.
2. Environmental Destruction:
What scientists predicted
Rising global temperatures and melting of glaciers will directly impact ocean and coastal habitats. Ecosystems will be destroyed and species will die off, as sea levels rise, seasons shift, and glaciers and polar ice caps melt.
Forty percent of frog and toad species in the Costa Rican cloud forest, including the beautiful Golden Toad, have gone extinct in recent years due to unusual dryness linked to global warming. Polar bears are threatened with starvation as melting sea ice keeps them from their food.
3. Catastrophic Weather
What scientists predicted:
Warmer temperatures will speed evaporation, leading to drought in some places and heavy downpours and flooding in others. Extreme weather events as well as El Niņo events may become more intense and more frequent.
The El Nino event of 1997-1998 was the strongest El Niņo event of the century. In 1999, the U.S. experienced one of the most extreme droughts ever recorded, and Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Delaware faced their driest growing seasons on record. That same year, the Pacific Northwest experienced its second wettest year on record. Nevada, California and Iowa all experienced deadly floods. Recent years have seen record hurricanes, including Hurricane Mitch, the deadliest in 200 years, and Hurricane Andrew, the most destructive ever.