It would be encouraging if our elected leaders took fact-based positions rather than making invalid assertions defending the status quo. Such practices are especially troubling when, by blocking needed reforms, enormous hardships are imposed on taxpayers.

In your message of Feb. 6, you made several statements that profoundly misrepresent realities about climate-change in rationalizing your indefensible position.

First, you assert that there’s been a “gradual” warming of the earth over the last half-century. Temperature data for the past 150 years reveals that the rate of our planet’s rising temperature has become unprecedentedly rapid.

While sluggish cyclical changes in global temperature over past centuries and eons have been attributed to natural causes, no such explanations account for the alarmingly fast rate of record-breaking temperatures in recent decades.

Consider the following:

  • Eighteen of the 20 hottest years on record have occurred in the past 20 years, and 2016 was the hottest year ever. [Climate Change Indicators: U.S. and Global Temperature, EPA]
  • According to the National Hurricane Center, the current-dollar cost of hurricane damage in the U.S. – so far in the 21st century – is four times greater than the yearly costs in the previous century. These damages were estimated to be some $300 billion in 2017 alone.
  • Wildfire destruction of U.S. forests has dangerously escalated over the past two decades. In fifteen of the past seventeen years, more forests were destroyed by fire than the 30-year average. [National Interagency Fire Center]

Also misleading is your assertion that there is “uncertainty in the science behind climate change.” To the contrary, the science is quite conclusive about human activities being the primary cause of escalating temperatures and rising sea levels. Numerous authoritative reports conclude that greenhouse-gas emissions are overheating the Earth, and the leaders of every other major nation agree.

By suggesting that the U.S. should stop purchasing “energy” (presumably meaning oil and natural gas) from unfriendly countries, you seem to be unaware that the U.S. is glutted with oil and gas and is now exporting more of these fossil-fuels than ever.

Moreover, your assertion that “making a rush to judgment” would harm the U.S. economy contradicts well-established facts. Clean-energy power-generation (solar and wind) now supports far more jobs than fossil-fuel power, and the costs of carbon-free energy is plummeting, according to the 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

I strongly implore you to serve the public interest by using accurate information.

Editor's Note: This letter was first published at Savannah Now (Savannah Morning News). Image: this image is via NASA (fair use).
David Kyler

David Kyler

David Kyler is the co-director of the Center for a Sustainable Coast, a non-profit membership organization he co-founded in 1997. The Center works to protect, preserve, and sustain the vital natural, cultural, and economic resources of coastal Georgia.

One of David’s deepest convictions, and a founding principle of the Center, is that environmental research, scientific information, and public involvement are urgently needed to improve decisions affecting the sustainability of natural systems. Accordingly, the Center’s slogan is “Advocating responsible decisions to sustain coastal Georgia’s environment and quality of life.”

To pursue the Center’s mission, Kyler gives priority to raising public awareness about issues affecting coastal Georgia at all levels – from local to state and national, to global. He frequently publishes letters and opinion columns in Georgia newspapers, often commenting on controversial issues that require improving the analysis and coordination of both economic and environmental considerations.

In the past three years alone, on behalf of the Center David has published close to one-hundred commentaries on a range of issues, including offshore drilling, protecting Cumberland Island National Seashore, risks of contamination by coal ash and other toxic materials, coastal development controls, and conflicts between environmental protection and economic development practices.

In the past decade, under Kyler’s influence, the Center has been one of the few Georgia non-profit organizations persistently voicing alarm about the global climate crisis and the urgent need to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. In 2018 and 2019 the Center hosted several public forums on climate issues in the Savannah area and collaborated with the Climate Reality Project in organizing a rally in Savannah, scheduled to be coordinated with the international Climate Strike.

Through his work with the Center, David is helping to redefine economic self-interest by incorporating the principles of sustainability in public policies governing both economic development and environmental protection. He is convinced that systemic analysis and life-cycle assessment, including thorough evaluation of economic and societal externalities, are essential to responsible environmental stewardship.

He holds degrees from Lehigh University (BS, Industrial Engineering) and Southern Illinois University (MS, Design Science), and has completed advanced studies in Resource Management and Policy at the State University of New York at Syracuse. Mr. Kyler has worked in environmental policy analysis, regional planning, and public-interest advocacy for over 40 years. He’s been a resident of Saint Simons Island since 1977 and grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.