November 11, 2007

I, For One, Welcome Our Natural Disaster Overlords

Congratulations global warming skeptics. You’ve won. The world is yours, and the arguments of the global warming believers have fallen away. All of their predictions are wrong: sea levels will not rise, natural disasters will not occur with greater frequency, and global climate change will not harm any of us.

Well, I’m being dishonest. Global warming skeptics haven’t won in the traditional sense. Rather, they’ve managed to cast enough doubt that no effective action has been taken against global warming, and the predictions of those who warned us are no longer predictions, they’re reality. As the sea levels rise, wiping island nations, as natural disasters flood through Mexico, the United States, Europe, China, Australia, and beyond, and as the loss of farmland, marine life, fisheries threatens our world’s basic ability to feed the population, everyone can thank those skeptics who’ve “won” the debate.

So many times, these skeptics have called into question methodology. Never mind that the majority of these skeptics didn’t publish works of their own of a quality that could be put in scientific journals, they questioned every aspect of the method of those who did the research. From urban heat wells to satellite errors, global warming skeptics have questioned time and time again, and every time their complaints have been taken into account, corrected, and yet the result is still the same: the earth is getting warmer and the consequences of climate change cannot be ignored.

These campaigns of misinformation started out innocently enough, back when climate change was a relatively new concern. Skepticism legitimately arose because of the newness of the issue. But as time went on these complaints stopped sounding so logical and instead became the domain of self-interested groups like oil companies who stand to lose from solutions to climate change. Nowadays almost all skeptics, ranging from those few scientists to lobbyists, are simply paid shills of oil companies who want to delay the inevitable for a bit.

From talking about how the problem doesn’t exist, climate change skeptics moved on to the incredulous statement that climate change doesn’t matter. They, of course, don’t live in the Pacific Ocean, where island nations like Tuvalu and Vanuatu are disappearing from the face of the earth. They also didn’t live in New Orleans, when an entire major United States city was taken out by a hurricane that was the result of the increased number of tropical storms caused by global warming. Global warming skeptics who believe that climate change won’t matter must in fact live either in northern Canada or Siberia, where the warming weather is likely to make such locations more habitable. They couldn’t possibly live anywhere else and not feel its effects.

Then global warming skeptics declared that the solutions would be worse for the economy. Oil and energy companies would be destroyed, growth would be lost, and global markets would fail because of a sudden shift away from fossil fuels. Forget the fact that shifting to alternative energy sources would invest billions in the US economy, or the fact that those jobs lost in fossil fuels would be gained elsewhere, oil companies and their paid skeptics would hear nothing of it. The energy companies had their own interests in mind, and not that of the American people, when they began persuading members of Congress that global warming was a hoax because their profits were threatened.

Not only did global warming skeptics talk about how the effects of climate change didn’t matter and that the solutions were worse, they then blatantly said that it wasn’t a human problem and that human beings couldn’t do anything about it. Skeptics claimed that because the percentage of carbon that has been put into the atmosphere by humans is relatively small, the cause could not have possibly been human. They turn to natural variations as the main cause, most notably those from the sun. This kind of thinking is actually flat out wrong, especially considering that the major prediction of the solar variation theory, that of a warming stratosphere, is untrue. Not only is the stratosphere not warming up, but it is cooling down, a prediction in line with an increase in man-made greenhouse gas warming. These doubters of global warming are thus not only spreading falsehoods, but they’re misleading the public on purpose because they don’t want to deal with the reality of a problem caused by mankind.

People who doubt global warming exists ultimately doubt the ability of mankind to fix it. They try to reason away its existence, its scope, and man’s own hand in it because they fear that if global warming does exist, will have serious impacts, and was caused by man, then mankind might have created a situation that it cannot get itself out of. Ultimately, global warming skeptics doubt people and the solutions that humankind can create.

This doubt is unfounded. We as a race of people have completely altered the face of the planet. We’ve gone to space, created weapons of mass destruction, gone to the depths of the ocean, and done countless tasks that seem to defy understanding and magnitude. And yet when a problem as simple to solve as global warming, which requires us to only reduce our output of carbon dioxide and to find alternative energy sources, comes along, mankind can’t find an answer? Ending World War 2 was a harder challenge. It’s time for people to stop doubting global warming and do something about it. Even if it seems like all hope is lost, and the effects are starting to occur, humankind can still fix this problem before it gets even more out of hand.

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