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More action less hot air on climate change, please

Published 08/06/2015

In reply to Eamon Butler's disconcerting letter on atmospheric carbon dioxide levels (Write Back, June 3), I would like to point out several gaping holes in his knowledge of global ecology.

There is no doubt at all that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that insulates the earth from the coldness of outer space and that its increasing concentration will lead to more heat energy in the earth's atmosphere, affecting our world's climate systems.

He suggests we should strive to increase carbon dioxide levels to increase plant growth.

This is only half the truth. Plants consume carbon dioxide to produce organic chemicals that animals, including ourselves, use as food, but in doing so refreshes the atmosphere with an important gas, without which we would suffocate.

Most of our CO2 emissions are caused by the burning of fossil fuels, which are the fossilised remains of megatons of prehistoric plants. It was the non-degradation of these ancient plants that led to our oxygen-rich, life-supporting atmosphere.

If we fail to spend money on research and development of alternative energy production - which Mr Butler seems to consider nonsense - we run the risk of so unbalancing atmospheric chemistry that our climate will change undoubtedly.

Increasing CO2 together with huge reduction in tropical rainforest ecosystems will cause catastrophic change sooner or later.

We may not be totally responsible for global warming (which is only part of the problem), but we certainly are a significant part of the problem.

Climate change is a reality and no amount of Mr Butler's railing against "extreme scaremongering" can change that.

We must continue to replace fossil-fuel consumption as well as conserving natural forest ecosystems. The sky will never fall in due to atmospheric changes, but we will feel the effects of increasing ferocity of hurricanes, droughts, deluge and decreased biodiversity if we proceed to blunder on with Mr Butler's eco-blindness.

DAVID FULLERTON

By email

Belfast Telegraph

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