Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Are we seriously still having this argument? Climate change is real, folks.

I'll admit it. I'm one of those people who on the whole ignores the midterm elections. I've never lived in a state where shake-ups could happen during a mid-term election and so I've become comfortable with the idea of just 'sit and watch' over the years. But this year's primaries have shot this complacent little ecologist right out of her chair and up on two feet with both arms flailing. Why? Because I suddenly noticed a consistent line being towed by several of the senatorial candidates.

In New Hampshire, all of the GOP potentials are in agreement that climate change due to humans has not been proven. New Mexico GOP candiadates think that "it's not real." In Alaska GOP/Tea Party candidate Joe Miller "hasn't heard about it." Wisconsin hopeful Ron Johnson "absolutely does not believe in the science of man-caused climate change." In fact the only GOP candidate supporting climate action is Mike Castle, from Delaware.

I'm equally frustrated with the candidates on every side who won't vocally speak out in support of the overwhelming scientific evidence that global warming is happening seemingly because it's just not a popular stance. By not advocating for climate change action, these candidates are complicitly contributing to the idea that climate change might not be real.

How can we still be having this argument? Have we landed back in 1992? Cause I really don't want to have to go through the horror of having to wear braces and headgear all over again. Seriously though, in case you're on the fence about this whole "global warming thing", here are a couple of models that I think help explain the problem.

The first is from the science skeptic website and addresses the question "Is global warming still happening?" it's a straightforward model that focuses just on the science. The next is the Carbon Bathtub which National Geographic has a nice version of here (also shown below). While it only covers atmospheric carbon, it's very applicable to everything we're throwing excessively into our atmosphere. Basically, if you're filling the bathtub faster than it can be drained, you're going to reach a critical point.

The sad truth is that we've overburdened our atmosphere to the point where no reduction in emissions will stop this flow. There is a super-cool climate simulator here, where you can play around with different nation-groups emission levels to see the impact that changes will make on atmospheric carbon.

So what's so bad about the planet warming up? If the increase in global greenhouse gases continues we can expect the latter half of the century to see: high temperature rises some 10°F over much of the United States, (increased extreme climate variability as this temperature is reached),  Sea level rise of 3 to 7 feet, increased desertification (Dust Bowls over the southwestern US and many other heavily populated regions around the globe), massive species loss on land and sea — 50% or more of all life, more frequent and severe hurricanes, storms and flooding occurences.

Now, some may accuse me of being gloom and doom about this whole "climate change marketing nonsense" (Hi, Dad!). Actually, I think it's an awesome opportunity for significant innovation and progress. But, Necessity can't be Invention's mother if you keep hiding her away and pretending she doesn't exist.

I'm angry that this issue is still in question in politics. Especially since there is no question in the scientific community that global warming is happening and that humans are playing a significant role in changing our global climate. I'm giving up on our government realizing that this is an ideal area for the United States to become a global technological, economic and ethical leader.

I'm optimistic though, that there are enough interested, energized people out there looking for new ways to do things. Maybe they can turn to Deutsche Bank who just released a paper titled Climate Change: Addressing the Major Skeptics Argument on their Investment Research site where they also say:

"The paper's clear conclusion is that the primary claims of the skeptics do not undermine the assertion that human-made climate change is already happening and is a serious long term threat....Simply put, the science shows us that climate change due to emissions of greenhouse gases is a serious problem. Furthermore, due to the persistence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the lag in response of the climate system, there is a very high probability that we are already heading towards a future where warming will persist for thousands of years. Failing to insure against that high probability does not seem a gamble worth taking."

Perhaps this finding will mean more investing in progress. I have hope for us, I just wish our government would stop with the nonsense and get on board.


Anonymous said...

This bank runs a $7 billion green investment fund, which now is losing value. The bank is panicking and attempting to do whatever it can to keep shareholders invested in the fund, but they are leaving in droves. Would you expect a 'study', sponsored by a bank with billions invested in green tech, to conclude that climate change is not caused by humans? Of course not. This kind of green backed science is why the greens have lost the battle; no one believes these scare reports anymore.


j.e.n. said...

Dear Anonymous,

It is certainly a good idea to question the motives of companies, and politicians heavily funded by companies. But there is independent and academic scientific proof that climate change is happening and that humans are undoubtedly triggering this part of the cycle. That the consequences are likely to come to bear in the later part of this century is no reason to ignore this point.