Regarding Ivor Paul Kaplin’s Dec. 22 letter, “Humans behind climate change,” the acknowledgment of the human contribution to global warming is so common now that people overlook the details of the situation. Yes, human activity is contributing to global warming. But human activity is not the “primary cause” that Kaplin says it is. The primary cause is that, for many thousands of years, the planet naturally has been in a warming phase. That phase is continuing, evidenced by the continuing retreat of alpine glaciers and polar ice caps. The last ice age did not end 20,000 years ago and then yield to a so-called inter-glacial phase that we now inhabit. The last ice age is still in the process of ending.
That is why it is impossible to stop global warming. We are contributing to the rise in ambient temperature, but the situation is beyond us, and we are just along for the ride on Spaceship Earth. We already knew that when the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated. Retarding or totally ending the human contribution to the warming trend will not retard or end the trend itself.
Even if human activity has been the primary culprit, it must be pointed out that our contribution is not the result of the industrial age alone. It is the cumulative result of every environment-altering activity and every fire our species has ever undertaken, going back many millennia. Ending our part in it will take many thousands of years more, even if our emissions are reduced to zero immediately.
Therefore, I do not appreciate hearing talk of “ending global warming” by limiting human gas emissions, nor talk of human activity that ignores the evolution of climate in geologic time.
Curbing human contributions to the climate mess is a good thing; it makes us feel better about ourselves. But one day our species will become extinct. Extinction is natural, and the planet will go merrily on until the dying and expanding sun consumes it.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.