Guest Spot: The evidence is clear — climate change is underway

05/11/2019 6:00 AM |

Albert Einstein is reputed to have said, “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” I’ll get back to this.

Science is evidence-based. It doesn’t matter what you believe, it only matters what you can prove based on the evidence. The scientists who truly understand physics, chemistry, mathematics, etc., have proved that global warming and climate change exist and they are human-caused. The science is complex but well understood and these experts speak with a single voice. 

The presidents of 31 American organizations of professional scientists tell us that: “… Climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research concludes that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver … There is strong evidence that ongoing climate change is having broad negative impacts on society, including the global economy, natural resources and human health. For the United States, climate change impacts include greater threats of extreme weather events, sea level rise, and increased risk of regional water scarcity, heat waves, wildfires, and the disturbance of biological systems. The severity of climate change impact is increasing and is expected to increase substantially in the coming decades. To reduce the risk of the most severe impacts of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must be substantially reduced.” 

The world’s leading climate science experts, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warn the world of the impending catastrophic consequences of unchecked global warming in their “Special Report: Global Warming of 1.50 C.” They tell us: “One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes.” And, “The report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require ‘rapid and far-reaching’ transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050.” 

The Trump administration’s own report written by science experts in 13 agencies of the federal government titled the “Fourth National Climate Assessment” (November, 2018) tells us: “Observations from around the world show the widespread effects of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations on Earth’s climate. High temperature extremes and heavy precipitation events are increasing. Glaciers and snow cover are shrinking, and sea ice is retreating. Seas are warming, rising and becoming more acidic, and marine species are moving to new locations toward cooler waters. Flooding is becoming more frequent along the U.S. coastline. Growing seasons are lengthening and wildfires are increasing. These and many other changes are clear signs of a warming world.” 

The Director of National Intelligence tells us: “Climate hazards such as extreme weather, higher temperatures, droughts, floods, wildfires, storms, sea level rise, soil degradation, and acidifying oceans are intensifying, threatening infrastructure, health, and water and food security.” 

The United States Department of Defense tells us: “The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense missions, operational plans and installations.” 

When President Trump (and the Republican Party in general) is asked to respond to these reports from experts in his own administration, he says: “I don’t believe it.” He cites no reasons, gives no explanation, offers no discussion, and provides no evidence of any kind to support an alternative conclusion. His line of thinking goes, “If I don’t believe it, it can’t be true.” 

But we humans are obliged to obey the laws of nature, not the other way around. Scientists don’t invent the laws of nature, they discover them and describe as accurately as possible how those laws of nature work. The exact same laws of nature that allow us to cook food with microwaves also require that greenhouse gases absorb heat trying to escape from Earth and hold that heat in the atmosphere warming the planet.

Denying the voluminous scientific evidence for human-caused global warming and climate change without offering any reasonable contradictory evidence certainly fits Einstein’s notion of human stupidity.