Hurricane Michael has blown through the Florida panhandle and raced across several southern states, causing immense destruction and tearing apart the lives of thousands. No such storm has hit the U.S. mainland for 50 years.
It got me thinking about some other facts
Last year hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate caused thousands of deaths and resulted in their names being retired because of the devastation inflicted in terms of damage costs and lives lost.
The global annual temperature has increased, on average, .13° Fahrenheit per decade since 1880 and .17° Fahrenheit per decade since 1970. That’s about 1.8° since 1880 with .8° of it from 1970.
The ten hottest global years on record have all been 1998 and later. The four hottest were in decreasing order 2016, 2015, 2017, and 2014.
The sea level rise averaged over all oceans from 1880 to 2013 is .06 inches per year while the average since 1993 is .11 to .14 inches per year. That’s almost 8 inches from 1880 to 2013 and 2.75 to 3.5 inches since 1993.
Ice losses from Antarctica have tripled since 2012.
The following question is of concern today:
Is the climate of our world changing?
One of the next statements is a fact. The other is a lie.
The climate of our world is changing.
The climate of our world is not changing.
That is, the answer to the question is either YES or NO. And that’s a fact!
The answer does not depend on what you think, what I think, what a Republican thinks, what a Democrat thinks. The answer depends only on the physical forces that control the climate.
Since it is not a political question, it serves no positive purpose for the governor of my state to forbid use of the phrase “climate change” or for the president of my country to say it is a “Chinese hoax.” Whatever they think or say, it does not change the answer to the question.
So, putting utterings of blowhards aside, how do we find the answer? The same way we have searched over millennia for understanding of the world and universe in which we live. We turn to science. A scientist will look at the facts listed earlier and many more in order to draw conclusions. A scientist will develop a theory, make predictions based on it, and observe whether the predictions are accurate. A scientist will report findings in peer reviewed articles that are open to objections from other scientists based on their own studies. That is, the scientist is subject to a high standard of fact checking that, unlike the political shadings of truth, cannot be ignored.
A theory becomes “accepted” when scientific opinion of experts in the particular field of interest overwhelmingly solidifies. That agreement has been achieved for our question, and the answer is YES, the climate of our world is changing.
Oh, those who don’t like that conclusion will pull out a couple of tired easily refuted arguments.
1. Not every scientist in the field does agree. Why shouldn’t we accept this other view? The answer is simple. Because the massive evidence produced by well over 90% of the scientists in the field says they are wrong. We should also question why such “researchers" have gone against the vast majority of experts. Often it is the result of arrogance. Sometimes there’s a more unsavory reason. I have a former friend whose views I can no longer tolerate who pointed to an MIT professor who was a strong advocate that climate change is not a reality. An MIT professor! Surely that must mean something. But a little research showed this particular MIT professor was a highly paid consultant to the oil industry! One wonders where his loyalty lies.
2. Science has been wrong before. Certainly true. Once it was held that the sun and all heavenly bodies revolved around the Earth. But the current scientific environment, with its high level of peer review and independent research, makes errors far less likely to endure, and to be rectified if found.
So how come there are those who view climate change as a political question when we’ve seen in reality it’s a scientific question?
It’s because politicians have a loose association with the truth and a strong desire to remain in office. They will answer the question YES or NO depending on how they consider it will enhance their political career, including benefits to their financial backers. Many people of means who attempt to buy politicians are in businesses that would be affected negatively by attempts to bring sanity to the discussion. They would have you believe that a truth is a lie, that YES is NO.
It is up to us not to be played for fools. Don’t take a stand based on political persuasion. However, if you honestly believe there is no climate change, are you willing to risk what would happen if you are wrong? Why not assume it exists as a fail-safe position and take every possible step to combat it? Such action wouldn’t hurt, and who can predict the benefits that might ensue?
One of those benefits could be a vibrant Earth offering untold riches to your grandchildren and great grandchildren and beyond—if it isn’t too late already.