Our planet is warming and the cause is human activity. The effects on climate, economics and indeed on life itself are starting to accumulate and the outlook is ominous.
Climate scientists are in agreement that global warming is caused by human activity. Their consensus is based on the accumulation of massive amounts of evidence gathered over many decades and published in leading scientific journals. The research shows that the increase in greenhouse gases generated by economic growth has a major impact on global warming and dominates natural causes such as solar activity.
Climate change has moved beyond the status of what we normally think of as a theory because now we are witnessing physical evidence of the claims previously put forward by the scientific community. The latest data show ongoing rapid melting in the Arctic accompanied by rising sea levels. The global warming trend continues despite the current low level of solar activity. Weather extremes vividly illustrate that the climate is undergoing a significant shift well beyond normal variability. Many parts of the earth are increasingly under bombardment from violent storms creating havoc over huge areas, droughts destroying crops and forcing migration, and floods causing enormous damage and hardship. All the signs point to an increase in the number and intensity of extreme and volatile conditions in the future.
Thanks to the remarkable discoveries of scientists past and present, we enjoy benefits of their accomplishments beyond our wildest imaginings. We demonstrate our trust in their work every time we enter a building, drive a car, board an airplane, or turn on a TV. Yet when scientists warn us of the grave danger we face from increasing greenhouse gases and the severe damage being inflicted on our planet, we fail to listen. Many of us are only dimly aware of the problem. Why have so many people chosen to ignore the scientists in this particular instance?
One reason for the disparity comes from the deniers. They accuse the scientists of being alarmists, attack their credibility, and claim rising global temperatures are nothing more than part of the natural cycle. It defies reason when deniers claim they know more about climate change than the huge majority of scientists who devote their careers to the study of this complex subject. Deniers seldom present their argument in scientific journals because they can’t back it up with evidence. They spread false information in the media and create public doubt by undermining the work of climate scientists. These deceptive tactics have produced a gap between what the scientists know and what the public understands.
There’s an old expression, When you receive bad news, don’t shoot the messenger! With climate change, the real culprit is a blatant disregard for scientific evidence. Instead of dealing with the source of the bad news, some have chosen to blame the scientists who deliver the message. Many of us are more willing to accept information we like and reject information that doesn’t match our image of the world. We will often believe what we want to believe and are only too happy to accept the deniers’ claim when it aligns with our worldview.
So now there’s a choice to be made. We can either:
1: Ignore the inconvenient but factual message of the climate scientists, continue with “business as usual”, and keep using fossil fuels regardless of the consequences of more greenhouse gas emissions.
2: Take the scientists’ warnings seriously and meet the challenge of reducing emissions, developing renewable sources of energy, and maintaining a habitable planet.
In Canada and the United States, we’re currently choosing 1 because vast amounts of money are at work promoting the continued use of coal, oil, and natural gas. Until we understand the enormous power wielded by the denial industry it’s highly unlikely that the actions already taken by other developed countries will occur here. And so the question remains. Will the climate scientists’ research be recognized and accepted before time runs out on our ability to prevent disaster?
You can learn more in-depth details about climate change here.