Terry Root and I have one thing in common.
We both would like to see soda pop marketed exclusively in glass bottles.
For me, it’s a nostalgia thing. Loved to pop the top off a Pepsi or root beer when I was a kid. And it always stayed colder in bottles.
For Root, it’s all about saving our planet.
Root, who retired from a career at Stanford University and lives in Sarasota, spoke this past weekend at the Congregational United Church of Christ in Punta Gorda. She primarily works on how wild animals and plants are changing with climate change, with a focus on the possible mass extinction of species with warming.
She was a lead author for the Third (2001) and Fourth (2007) Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change and a Review Editor for the Fifth (2014) Assessment Report. In 2007 the IPCC was co-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Vice President Al Gore.
This past weekend was the second talk she has presented in Charlotte County this month. She’s happy to be so busy because she has a message she wants to deliver before it’s too late.
That message is, if we don’t do something about climate change, we will not only see tremendous property damage in the coming decades but bird species and other animals may become extinct.
Plastics are just part of the problem, albeit a big part. That’s why she would love to see states adopt a policy like Michigan and others that require a deposit on glass bottles.
“But, that will be tough because the oil and gas lobby is so strong and they want to make plastic bottle,” Root said during a phone interview. “Plastic (is bad). To make one pound of plastic it takes six pounds of Co2 emitted in the atmosphere.”
Root earned her PhD from Stanford studying the impact of climate change on the earth’s plants and animals.
“Back then, people were saying climate was not important,” she said. “I was an outlier.”
She spoke last weekend on the potential loss of birds.
“Audubon findings (in 2018) show that two-thirds of North American birds are in danger of extinction if we go up 3 degrees from our addiction to fossil fuels,” she noted.
She has preached the dangers of climate change for years to anyone who will listen. Fortunately, in the past few years, people have begun to listen.
“Opinions are starting to change,” she said. “Us old farts need to get on the bus. FOX News says it is all natural and it will get cooler. But 800,000 years ago Co2 concentration in our atmosphere never went above 300 parts per million. On Jan. 21, it was 412 parts per million. Yes, we have natural cycles every 100,000 years or so but it has never gone above 300.”
She has no problem debating those who laugh at climate change and call it a hoax.
“Those people who say it is natural are dreaming,” she said. “They get their news from an unreliable source.
“I had a fella come up to me and say Co2 is miniscule and not causing these problems. I asked him if I could fix him dinner and put one cell of ebola virus in it. You will get sick. Dosage does not matter, it is how powerful the dosage is. I can show naysayers the lies. I have evidence.”
She is confident people will get on board.
“We have to have a paradigm change,” she said. “We had a shift in smoking and women’s lib and the Me Too movement. Now we need to do it with climate change.”
John Hackworth is the commentary editor for The Sun Newspapers in Port Charlotte, Fla.
“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.