Depending on your view point climate change is either a real problem we have to do something about now or you believe this is a bunch of trumped up alarmism flooding the media. The subject has been a hot bed of debate back and forth for quite some time.
Al Gore touted the issue and made a major stride in getting the message out back in 2006 with the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” but the issue has been on the science radar for much longer. In the 1800’s scientists were theorizing and investigating changing climates and the subsequent effects on the world. In the 1820’s Joseph Fourier found that the atmosphere was what kept the planet warm and thus postulated what is now known as the greenhouse effect. Several scientists would take this further in the decades to come. A good timeline can be found here. Science has been observing, measuring, and reporting on climate change for centuries and yet we as a species have done very little in the way of accepting, at least in part, that we have affected changes on the natural order of things on our planet. For a bit of reading, here is an IPCC report from 1990, NASA
I would think any reasonable person can understand and accept that we live on a huge interdependent biosphere. We interact with other things around us all the time and have an effect on those things, good, bad, or indifferent, all the time. So why is it so hard for some to accept that we might have had a negative impact on the climate of our planet ?
We are still spending a lot of time going back and forth and much of the debate, in the media view, has been either flat out denial or “we are beyond saving”. We have politicians overseeing governing bodies of science and study stripping funding and shooting down any attempt at promoting additional research (Jim Inhofe, Ted Cruze, Todd Akin…) . We have politicians in some states banning the mere utterance of the words “climate change” . And we have various players on the religious right claiming there is no way god would let this happen and that man is not powerful enough to damage the planet this way (queue Jim Inhofe). ( fun page of quotes here) People are spending money on debunking scientific facts, ad campaigns, and investigations into who was bought off by whom for which study. Meanwhile, the problem is still here.
I am truly failing to grasp why this is so hard to get a grip on. Most people who made it through basic science in grade school can look at scientific discovery for the last 200 years and piece together that things have indeed changed and there are some rather specific causes with measurable results. We could quibble endlessly about the details but the fundamental point is that the planet we inhabit is going through changes and we have had an impact in the way those are playing out and it is not heading in a good direction. I’ll re-iterate – the blue ball we as a species exist on is having problems, more so than had we not contributed, and it is serious.
I’m not trying to be alarmist about it all but if you’re in your house and it is burning, do you take a time out and argue with your neighbor about the height of the flames, or what will or won’t burn depending on where it is in your house, or how long it will burn and if it will spread to his house ? No. Do you spend time debating about how it started or where ? No. Do you stand there looking at your coffee table in flames and flat out deny that it is on fire ? No. Do you stop and pray to god for help and wait for him to come down and rescue you? No. You get out and call the Fire Department to put it out.
Our problem is that we have nowhere else to go, though NASA is trying, there is nobody to call, and thus far praying hasn’t stopped anything. We are here for the foreseeable future so…shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to make sure we have a decent place to exist ?
Doesn’t it make more sense to move to green energy? Let’s use sources and processes that don’t put “potentially” hazardous gases, chemicals, and pollutants into our environment. Again, we could debate till we are dead about how much can the planet handle, is it really having an effect, etc. but my question is why find out, if there is an alternative that won’t pose a problem.. ? A bullet “might” kill me but I’m not going to shoot myself to see if it does. Are we really “those” people that will spend more time trying to find out how to hold the gun a special way, aim the gun and pull the trigger in just such a way that there is a good chance we might survive, or design a smarter gun so that if you do pull the trigger… ? Really? Does anybody ever consider not picking up the gun at all.. ? I don’t know about you but I could do just fine without knowing whether or not I might survive getting shot, when I do know I will for sure if I don’t play with the gun at all.
The planet sustains us in every way. If it dies, we die, fairly simple. Obviously things are not quite right and could be much better so why not do something that is good for the planet, and us.