Berry College environmental sciences professor Zack Taylor said the rate of climate change is concerning and the cost can already be seen.
The increase in greenhouse gases has reached a point where fixing the issue will be very expensive.
“Obviously, it will be really expensive to fix climate change,” Taylor said. “So far in 2020 there has been $16 billion in weather disasters, so it’s already really expensive.”
A problematic challenge related to finding a solution is that our infrastructure was built for the climate and population of 50 or 60 years ago, he said.
“Ten or 12 years ago there was more concern about the technical ability to (make changes),” Taylor said. Now, he is more worried about whether or not the US, and other nations, have the political will to do it.
During a presentation to the Rome Rotary Club on Thursday afternoon, Taylor said his students are always shocked to learn that the most deadly form of weather is a heat wave.
The professor said that the U.S. and Europe contribute about 30% each to the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.
“Ninety-eight to 99% of the scientists feel that humans are the main cause of climate change. If you look at the chemical signatures of the atmosphere they resemble oil,” Taylor said. “It’s hard for me to think of a ton of down sides to moving away from fossil fuels. It’s a hundred plus year old technology and we’re going to run out of it anyway.”
Asked about the impact of switching to electric vehicles, Taylor said it kind of depends on where the electricity comes from.
For example, he said, growth of electric vehicles in the Pacific Northwest will be served largely by electricity produced from hydropower with a minimal carbon footprint.
“If you’re getting your power from some old, not very efficient coal-fired power plant built in 1948, you’re probably not (helping) much with an electric car,” Taylor said.
The professor also said the continual problem with wildfires out west is that the forests are having a really hard time recovering and growing back.
“If you’re a forest, you have to adapt to changes. It’s going to get warmer, probably drier,” Taylor said. “Those are a lot of changes to ask nature to adapt to in a really quick amount of time.”
Those changes are resulting in an environment that is not able to absorb as much carbon.
Individuals can make a difference by becoming energy efficient, from conserving water to enhancing the insulation of a home, Taylor said.