Our ignorance of man-made climate change is only as secure as our inability to see its destructive capabilities in real time. We don’t seem to have that luxury any longer.
I’ve been reviewing a lot of the articles I have been saving over the last few months on Global Warming, hoping to get a theme to put together as an article for my blog. In light of the fact that climate change from global warming has been rearing its ugly head here recently in grand fashion, this seems to be an opportunity to strike while the iron is hot (pun intended) and make the argument once again on how man’s activities are contributing to this phenomena.
From the wild fires in the West, a record-setting heat wave in the midwest and the Eastern U.S. to the significant ice melts in glaciers and at the polar caps which in turn effect sea level rises occurring around the globe, it’s important that some climate deniers and many who are just confused and uncertain begin to realize that man’s footprint is clearly visible here. By burning vast amounts of carbon-based fossil fuels and losing millions of trees each year to deforestation programs we are not only emitting more CO2 into the earth’s atmosphere and oceans, heating up the planet and acidifying sea waters, but are eliminating sources of carbon sequestration important for plant growth by removing millions of acres of forests.
The climate science has advanced over the last couple of decades from the time Dr. James Hansen first testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee back in 1988 that the warming trend we were experiencing then “was not a natural variation but was caused by a buildup of carbon dioxide and other artificial gases in the atmosphere.”
This testimony can be cited as the catalyst in this country where the forces of the fossil fuel industry perceived a threat to their industry and began to marshal forces that would countervail the climate science that indicted our mass consumption of oil and coal. Since then petroleum giants like Exxon/Mobil, Conoco/Phillips and billionaire oil product suppliers Charles and David Koch are some who have created a network of pseudo-scientists and media pundits to create enough doubt about anthropogenic (man-made) global warming to disorient the public from this very real threat.
They have actually found a few legitimate climate scientists to conjecture that other things are effecting this warming, like solar activity or presented the evidence of early warming and cooling trends in earth’s history to conjecture that what was occurring now was natural and not man-made and therefore there was nothing we could do to stop it. In areas of economics they have had their minions hard at work in the corporate owned press to raise the issue that the actions which climate scientists were calling for to reduce our carbon footprint would in fact cost consumers in areas that would have a direct effect on their pocket books, like higher energy prices. But all of their efforts and misinformation over time have been met with sound science and careful analysis to either mollify their concerns or debunk them completely.
Underlying the climate denier’s sense that “global warming is a hoax” is the belief that human beings are too small a factor in effecting significant climate change. This sentiment was recently expressed by one of the more notable climate deniers, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma. In an interview with a conservative christian radio program, Inhofe told listeners, based on his very narrow interpretation of Genesis 8:22, that “The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what [God] is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”
Clearly Inhofe hasn’t seen the graphics that show the scale by which humans have increased not only in numbers but in human activity in just the last 250 years alone.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words but an image will have to suffice here. These graphs serve as a visual aid to show how such a profound transformation of Earth’s environment can be attributed to the numbers and activities of people as opposed to the forces of nature or extraterrestrial sources.
Click on image and then on each graph to view enlargement
As these graphs show, humans have been busy little creatures multiplying and generating vast amounts of wealth for a select few as earth’s resources have been consumed at levels that threaten their existence. Essentials to life, like food supplies and potable water are clearly threatened by this rapid rate of growth
From the dawn of human evolution until just a hundred years ago the world population grew to 1 billion people, but since the turn of the 20th century it leaped to over 7 billion today and will add another 1 billion in less than 15 year.
Economic activity increased nearly 10-fold between 1950 and 2000. The world’s population is more tightly connected than ever before via globalisation of economies and information flows. Half of Earth’s land surface has been domesticated for direct human use. Most of the world’s fisheries are fully or over-exploited. The composition of the atmosphere – greenhouse gases, reactive gases, aerosol particles – is now significantly different than it was a century ago. The Earth is now in the midst of its sixth great extinction event. The evidence that these changes are affecting the basic functioning of the Earth System, particularly the climate, grows stronger every year. The magnitude and rates of human-driven changes to the global environment are in many cases unprecedented for at least the last half-million years. SOURCE
Though CO2 in the atmosphere has reached dangerous levels during earth’s history, information gleaned by climate scientists from ice cores show that such increases never occurred at the rates we have seen since the advent of the Industrial Revolution in 1750.
Within the current limits of resolution of the ice-core records, the present concentration [of CO2 in the atmosphere] has been reached at a rate at least 10 and possibly 100 times faster than carbon dioxide increases at any other time during the previous 420,000 years. Thus, in this case human-driven changes are well outside the range of natural variability exhibited by the Earth system for the last half-million years at least. SOURCE
The adage “Seeing is believing, but feeling is the truth” comes into play here. Words that do not match the physical realities should be challenged. We not only have the visual reality depicted in the graphs above to show us how mankind has evolved to a level that is capable of seriously impacting Earth’s system, but the physical evidence of droughts, floods, massive ice melts, extraordinary rises in sea level as well as rare tornado activity in some locations are nature’s response to this human growth that can be genuinely felt by people today who live in those affected areas.
I don’t want to belittle anyone’s religious faith. It serves as a basis to help people deal with the complexities in modern life. But there are those, like James Inhofe, who use their faith to exploit personal agendas. Inhofe no more know’s the mind of God than anyone can say with absolute certainty that anthropogenic global warming is undeniable. But, be it a gift of creation or a factor of evolution, we do have a brain that has developed over the years and did so with the ability to look at our environment and make judgements based on analysis and observation. Our survival owes it to this cerebral capability. Future generations rely on it.