Tucker Martinez: Climate change: human versus natural
If I were to randomly select a stranger and ask them why they do or don’t believe in climate change I would likely get a variety of different answers from those who do believe in it, but for those who don’t believe in climate change one answer would emerge.
The one answer that nonbelievers love to use against the 98 percent of the scientific community that does believe in climate change is that it has happened in the past and therefore the change being experienced now is just natural fluctuation.
The problem here is that we never said that climate change never happened before and in fact we say the opposite. Teachers in the physical sciences talk about the ice ages and other climate changing events in every introductory class. So when the nonbelievers say that climate change isn’t real or isn’t happening because the climate has fluctuated in the past that is a counter argument to a statement which hasn’t been made.
The argument posed is that climate change has been made significantly worse in a significantly shorter span of time than would happen naturally and that it is due to humans. Some quick statistics on climate change according to NASA are that our temperature has risen by 1.7 degrees Celsius since 1880 (think Industrial Revolution), carbon dioxide is at 406 parts per million, which is the highest its been in over 600,000 years, sea level has risen between seven and nine inches over the last century depending on location, and the oceans are warming.
What those quick facts don’t mention is that sea level increase, in the last two decades, is double what it has been the last century. This doesn’t tell you that the warming oceans are directly causing more hurricanes which are also more severe. These quick facts don’t tell you that the carbon dioxide levels never reached higher than 320 ppm before humans started pumping out greenhouse gases. What that doesn’t tell you is that the increases in sea level will continue and that cities at, or below, sea level will be submerged in water and uninhabitable.
Even if every single car was put out of commission and we replanted all the forests we cut down tomorrow the carbon dioxide levels wouldn’t go down but merely stay the same. Those levels would eventually go down but it would take many more years than either us or our children and grandchildren would be on the planet.
Humans have had an unmistakable impact on climate. Our entire economy is centered around nonrenewable and environmentally toxic resources (when obtained and used the way we obtain and use them).
There is no denying climate change. It happened, is happening, and will continue to happen. And in reality there is no denying that humans have had a direct impact on climate. There are loads and loads of data to back this up.
If we want to survive, there are some pretty big decisions ahead of us.
Tucker Martinez lives in Nevada City.
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