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Tom Dietz

Tom Dietz studies science of climate change for Congress (part two)


Tom Dietz talks with Kirk Heinze on WJR

Written by Erica Shekell

In 2008, Congress asked Tom Dietz and his colleagues to study climate change and submit a report. Over two years later, the report has been released.

The bottom line of the report: The planet is warming, and the warming is mostly caused by human activity.

“When we say this is largely caused by human activity … it’s based on a very substantial body of research with multiple lines of evidence leading us to those conclusions,” he says.

Dietz and his fellow panel members were careful to indicate in the report when an assertion had well-established evidence to support it, and when there was a line of evidence, but not yet enough to make an assertion with high certainty.

With that in mind, he said that there’s a line of evidence that indicates that the oceans may be saturating in terms of their ability to absorb carbon dioxide, or CO2.

“It’s a little worrisome because if that’s the case, then the rate at which CO2 in the atmosphere will increase will get much faster,” says Dietz.

“One of the projections for the Great Lakes region is more rainfall, but also more intense periods of rainfall,” he also says. “It can tend to cause more erosion, more flooding, and it could overwhelm our sewage systems.”

Dietz says that one of the other panels – there are four of them – studied what city, state and local governments and private corporations can do to adapt to climate change. The  Panel on Limiting the Magnitude of Future Climate Change recommends that the U.S. create a budget for carbon dioxide emissions, he says.

“One of the things they say that a lot of people don’t like to hear,” says Dietz, “is that if you’re really going to be serious about this, the most efficient way to do it, the way that has the least government involvement, is to put a price on carbon. You can do that with a carbon tax or you could do it with the so-called cap and trade system.”

That panel also said that there’s a need for new technologies.

“One of the members of the overall committee, Björn Stigson ... has pointed out that the Chinese government has made a major commitment to being the world leader in green technologies. Europe is already moving very quickly,” says Dietz. “If we want to see those green jobs in Michigan, we’ve got to move and really begin to build that infrastructure.”


Click on the arrow above to hear part two of Dietz’ June 11 Greening of the Great Lakes conversation with Kirk HeinzeGreening of the Great Lakes airs Friday evenings at 7 on News/Talk 760 WJR.

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