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Climate change – the planet really is getting warmer. Are we to blame?

The summer of 2021 barely began when the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada hit record high temperatures. During the four days of June 23 – 28, Portland, Oregon registered a record-breaking high of 116 degrees Fahrenheit. During the same timeframe, the Pacific coastal Quillayute region in Washington State registered 110 degrees Fahrenheit – 45 degrees above average. On June 29, the temperature in Lytton, British Columbia in Canada reached 121 degrees – four degrees higher than the recorded high for Las Vegas, Nevada. (Astounding heat obliterates all-time records across the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada in June 2021)

Climate scientists report that since 1880, global temperature averages increased by 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit. Furthermore, more than 90% of climate scientists (many place the consensus as high as 97%) agree that the climate is getting warmer and human activity is the contributor.

People are becoming concerned

The Peoples’ Climate Vote Survey conducted by the University of Oxford in 2020 brought several interesting statistics to light:

  • 64% of respondents identified climate change as an emergency
  • 59% indicated the belief that urgent action should be taken to address the crisis
  • 20% thought the world ought to move slowly in response to climate change
  • 10% said the world is already taking all action necessary to combat the emergency.

More than 50% of respondents said that policies should be enacted that would revolve around the conservation of forests and lands; solar, wind, and renewable power; climate-friendly farming techniques; and investment in green business. The survey, dispersed by the unusual method of asking questions on mobile game apps, was answered by 12 million people in 50 countries.

And yet, doubt remains

Scientific evidence and public opinion aside, skepticism persists as to just how accurate a picture is made by climate scientists. Prominent laypersons who question global warming include U.S Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), who has received political contributions amounting to more than $2 million from the fossil fuel industry; Marc Morano, whose Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow was funded by fossil fuel corporations; Energy and Environment Legal Institute senior legal fellow Chris Horner, who has received fossil fuel funding; Cato Institute director Patrick Michaels, also funded by fossil fuel concerns; and British House of Lords peer Matt Ridley, who describes himself as a “climate lukewarmer,” and one who views global warming as real and manmade, but not likely to be dangerous.

Former space scientist Fred Singer holds the view that climate change is natural and that records show the climate to be cooling slightly rather than warming, and University of Alabama research scientist Roy Spencer believes climate change is occurring but likely for a natural reason, and that “We will look back on it as a gigantic false alarm.” He also believes that there is a possibility that more carbon dioxide is better for the planet. (https://www.beforetheflood.com/explore/the-deniers/top-10-climate-deniers/)

Climate change arguments

According to the article “History of Climate Change Debate” some of the arguments used to refute the evidence that human activity is causing climate change include:

  • Argument: Human activity resulting in the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is minimal and doesn’t significantly cause climate change. Counter-argument: Commonly run experiments with a cylinder filled with carbon dioxide and warmed by the sun stayed warmer longer than a cylinder filled with normal air. Also, while carbon dioxide makes up a mere 0.04% of the atmosphere, it’s still an influential greenhouse gas.
  • Argument: The Earth can absorb whatever impacts greenhouse gases are making. Counter-argument: Extreme weather events such as record high temperatures and strong storms are happening and are predicted to happen with greater frequency from humanity’s activities which cause climate change.
  • Argument: Modern-day warming of the Earth results from solar activity – fluctuations in the temperature of the sun and from ocean currents. Counter-argument: Recorded satellite data since 1978 on the amount of solar energy affecting the Earth show no uptick of activity.
  • Argument: Global measurements made by climate scientists are based on questionable climate models and science. Counter-argument: The models come from teams of scientists worldwide and are repeatedly tested to ensure they accurately reflect the state of the climate, even after major climatic events such as volcanic activity.

So where do all the arguments against climate change arise? According to many, the fossil fuel industry exploits them to create division and confusion over the issue. Five of the world’s biggest publicly owned oil and gas companies spend about $200 million US every year lobbying for the delay or blocking of climate policy.

Now, considering the controversy and what you see around you, where do you stand on the issue of global warming? Tell me in the comments below.

Sources

-- Climate Change Indicators in the United States. EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency). Retrieved 2021 July 6. https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators

--- Climate Change Indicators: Weather and Climate. EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency). Retrieved 2021 July 6. https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/weather-climate

--- History of Climate Change Debate. Britannica ProCon.org. Updated 2021 February 19. Retrieved 2021 July 5. https://climatechange.procon.org/history-of-climate-change-debate/

--- The money behind climate change denial. CNBC. 2020 December 20. Retrieved 2021 July 6. https://www.cnbc.com/video/2020/12/20/why-climate-change-denial-still-exists-in-the-us.html

--- Overview: Weather, Global Warming and Climate Change. NASA: Global Climate Change. Retrieved 2021 June 30. https://climate.nasa.gov/resources/global-warming-vs-climate-change/

Demelle, Brendan. Top 10 Climate Deniers. Before the Flood. Retrieved 2021 June 30. https://www.beforetheflood.com/explore/the-deniers/top-10-climate-deniers/

Di Liberto, Tom. Astounding heat obliterates all-time records across the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada in June 2021. NOAA: Climate.gov. 2021 June 30. Retrieved 2021 July 5. https://www.climate.gov/news-features/event-tracker/astounding-heat-obliterates-all-time-records-across-pacific-northwest

Herring, David, with updates by Scott, Michon. Isn’t there a lot of disagreement among climate scientists about global warming? NOAA/Climate.gov. 2020 February 3. Date retrieved 2020 June 30. https://www.climate.gov/news-features/climate-qa/isnt-there-lot-disagreement-among-climate-scientists-about-global-warming

Kentish, Alison. What World’s Largest Climate Change Public Opinion Poll Says. IPS: Inter Press Service News Agency. 2021 January 27. http://www.ipsnews.net/2021/01/what-worlds-largest-climate-change-public-opinion-poll-says/

Maslin, Mark. Five climate change science misconceptions – debunked. The Conversation. 2019 September 15. Retried 2021 July 6. https://theconversation.com/five-climate-change-science-misconceptions-debunked-122570

Rosen, Julia. The Science of Climate Change Explained: Facts, Evidence and Proof. The New York Times. 2021 April 19; updated 2021, May 12. Retrieved 2021 June 30. https://www.nytimes.com/article/climate-change-global-warming-faq.html

UNDP: Flynn, Cassie and Yamasumi, Eri. University of Oxford: Fisher, Stephen; Snow, Dan; Grant, Zack; and Kirby, Martha. Browning Environmental Communications: Browning, Peter; Rommerskirchen, Moritz; and Russell, Inigo. The Peoples’ Climate Vote. UNDP (United Nations Development Programme). 2021 January 26. https://www.undp.org/publications/peoples-climate-vote

WHO Health and Climate Change Survey Report: Tracking Global Progress (PDF). World Health Organization. 2019 December 3. https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/who-health-and-climate-change-survey-report-tracking-global-progress

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