YORK HARBOR — The burning of fossil fuel (oil, gas and coal) supported our industrial growth for over 150 years, but according to our scientists, it’s now starting to saturate our atmosphere with carbon dioxide, which is increasing global temperatures. As a result, our oceans are rising and extreme weather is becoming both more common and more dangerous.

Because of misguided political opposition, however, government action to lower these carbon emissions may fall short of the levels needed to stem global warming and its consequences.

James Lawrence Powell was appointed to the National Science Board by Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush and served for 12 years. He holds a doctorate in geochemistry from MIT.

Dr. Powell conducted a study of peer-reviewed articles on the topic of global warming. He found that 24,210 articles were written on climate change by 69,406 scientists from around the world in 2013 and 2014.

Of those authors, 69,402 (99.9 percent) indicated that global warming is caused by human activity (burning fossil fuel), with only four scientists indicating that global warming is not caused by human activity.

The U.S. Senate recently voted on a measure that stated that human activity significantly contributes to climate change.  The measure was defeated by 49 Senate Republicans who support the position that burning fossil fuel does not cause climate change. (Susan Collins of Maine was one of five Republicans to support the measure.)

Why are those elected officials ignoring the obvious consensus among scientists on this important issue? We can thank Chief Justice John Roberts’ Supreme Court for removing the cap on campaign funding from corporations seeking to gain political influence.

This unlimited flow of money into the campaigns of our elected officials provides a way for corporations to shift political sentiment to their business interests and goals. That money is now putting the safety and well-being of U.S. citizens at risk.

Clean-energy technologies, including solar, wind, hydro and electric vehicles, are providing us with an opportunity to dramatically reduce our carbon emissions and, in time, reduce our energy costs.

Solar energy converts a ray of sunshine directly into electricity, using no moving parts and causing no pollution. That’s a sustainable energy source that flows to our planet each day for free.

Getting electricity directly from sunshine and storing it for use at night and cloudy days is not science fiction. The cost of capturing and storing solar energy has dropped by 50 percent in the last 10 years and is still coming down.

Electric vehicles will be a good thing when our grandchildren are standing on a street corner with their own children waiting to cross and the vehicles passing directly in front of them have no exhaust pipes blowing carbon monoxide fumes into their lungs.

Government subsidies for clean-energy technology will continue to be needed for ongoing research and development, as well as pricing incentives until manufacturing production can scale to increasing demand. Governments around the world are making major investments in clean energy. China is rapidly becoming the global leader in clean-energy manufacturing.

From the 1950s through today, U.S. taxpayers have spent over $600 billion on government subsidies for the oil, gas and coal industries – and that doesn’t include the massive health and pollution costs.

U.S. energy policy and those large energy subsidies might have helped to avoid the situation we are currently in, had we shifted that money into clean energy 60 years ago. Bell Labs developed the technology for solar energy in 1954.

The International Energy Agency, headquartered in Paris with 29 of the world’s largest countries participating, reported that solar energy has the potential of becoming the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050.

But of all those participating countries, I expect the United States may experience the slowest growth rate in solar-generated electricity because of the politics and special interest money trying to stop it. Special interest money against science and innovation makes America weak.

I am hoping that during this upcoming presidential election season, we might hear from our candidates how they will move America forward with a new vision for clean, sustainable energy and the good-paying jobs that come with it. But I’m afraid that money and not common sense will once again be the guiding force of American politics.