KSU professor: E-mails won't affect summit

KENNESAW - Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson announced Monday that…

Georgia (Dec 8, 2009) — KENNESAW - Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson announced Monday that greenhouse gases pose a threat to public health and welfare, and although the EPA's findings do not require immediate action by the federal government, the announcement is expected to propel an already popular discussion on regulating pollution emitted by large corporations.


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The study and results come after a Supreme Court ruling that ordered the EPA to study the effects of carbon dioxide on both the environment and the population. The Obama administration is already pushing for "cap and trade" regulations, which would put financial strains on companies that do not meet federal emissions requirements. The EPA was also required to submit evidence that carbon emissions pose a threat to the public health before it could regulate six greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. Monday's announcement is expected to help both causes.

"The overwhelming amount of scientific studies show that the threat is real," Jackson said. "These long-overdue findings cement 2009's place in history as the year when the United States government began addressing the challenge of greenhouse gas pollution and seizing the opportunity of clean energy reform," Jackson said.

Kennesaw State University professor Michele Zebich-Knos said it can be difficult to distinguish between consequences of natural elements and those of man-made pollution.

"Climate change is a natural variation…There has been a lot of variation over the span of time. And over the last 10,000 years, things have been fairly constant, but after the advent of the industrial revolution, we have seen warming," said Zebich-Knos, professor and program director for International Policy Management in the university's department of political science and international affairs.

"We certainly need to work on the gases we can - CO2 and others as well, such as methane and nitrous oxide. CO2 is something we see as result of vehicles, the burning of rainforests, things we can control. But much of that burning is not in the U.S., so that also poses a problem as to how much the U.S. can control those factors," Zebich-Knos said.

The KSU professor, who has published several articles in social science journals regarding her research, agrees with the EPA's push for more environmental consciousness.

"I think it's a good thing anytime we go after pollution reduction," she said. "But one of problems when we talk about climate change is that the climate may have irreparable damage 200 years down the road, so it doesn't really register with people today. But there is some you can feel now in terms of pollution, and I think once we clean up pollution and do what we can to preserve the Earth, we'll all see a change for the better," she said.

E-mails from scientists at the University of Anglia were recently leaked to the public after someone hacked into the university's system. Those who deny global warming say the e-mails show that scientists have been conspiring to hide evidence that disproves global warming. Zebich-Knos said that she is surprised that someone would hack into the system, but she does not think the e-mails will have an effect on the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Conference. "Most of the e-mails are quite boring, and they simply represent typical academic bantering back and forth to get articles published," she said. "A few spark the public's interest about data that may question climate change and the human impact, but are they going to have an impact on Copenhagen? Probably not. It will probably have an impact on what people say through e-mail and how we word things, but they were basically trying to explain variations in the data, and when you're doing statistical analysis, you want to explain variation best you can."

Regardless of the impact of the e-mails, Zebich-Knos encourages the EPA and the public to think ahead.

"This is a precautionary approach; it's better to be cautious. If we're wrong, then, OK, we've eliminated greenhouse gases and still did something positive. But if we're right, and we don't take those precautionary approaches, we'll be suffering the consequences in future centuries."


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu