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MONDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2007
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EDITORIAL

Foolish to ignore global warming

Leading scientists in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said Friday that global warming is ominous and “very likely” man-made.

That’s a strong declaration for scientists, who are naturally cautious. Skeptics will say they left room for doubt. Scientists always do. But it would be foolish to ignore their warnings.

Meeting in Paris, IPCC members took sides on two controversial issues, declaring that burning fossil fuels causes global warming and that it has made hurricanes stronger. They argued over how fast sea levels are rising due to global warming, but not over whether seas are going up.

Some governments, including the Bush administration in the United States and the fossil-fuel-hungry leadership of China, hesitate to clamp down on industries and other sources of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. But it is a worldwide problem that cannot be solved by voluntary decisions made by corporations focused on short-term profits.

If you doubt that government action can make things better, consider the bald eagle.

In 1963, only 417 pairs of eagles existed in the lower 48 states, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. By 2000, the number had risen to almost 6,500. Banning DDT and enforcing endangered-species laws made the difference.

Global warming is a long-term problem that may take centuries to solve. But it will probably get worse if we don’t act now.

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