The truth is, as most of us know, that global warming is real and humans are major contributors, mainly because we wastefully burn fossil fuels. —David Suzuki
31 groups of scientists delivered a letter to Congress last month addressing the seriousness of global warming. Unfortunately, Congress doesn’t seem to care. They’ve slashed the budget on almost everything that even contains the word “climate.” The director of NASA was forced to justify why the agency even studies the earth at all. Welcome to a new era of science deniers.
As I’m looking through a number of articles from different science-based journals, the term “post-factual era” keeps popping up. The term not only applies to Congress, but to the attitude of much of the general populace. That a majority of people fail to understand how something labeled a “theory” can also be “fact” demonstrates the failure of science education. If the most basic constructs of science are not understood, we cannot be surprised when theories postulated based on those constructs fail as well.
Americans have long struggled with warming up to science. Whether it’s because the teachers were seen as too nerdy, the texts too difficult to understand, or the practical application too challenging to visualize, science has gotten a bad rap as a boring subject that doesn’t really matter in real life. As a result, we now face a Congress and a society that doesn’t know how to work with the frightening things science is telling us.
Is Science Really Important?
I had to delay walking the dog yesterday morning as a major thunderstorm system rolled through the area. When I finally did walk him a couple of hours later, it was still raining a bit, but our walk wasn’t all that uncomfortable. The temperature was in the 70s. There was no wind. The smattering of rain almost felt refreshing. So, where is this warming problem scientists keep screaming about?
The issue of climate change and global warming is real. The problem is we look at weather most often in terms of what is happening right where we are standing (or sitting) at this particular moment. We tend to not care about anything that we perceive to not affect us directly. Therefore, when scientists start talking about global trends rather than your immediate forecasts we often close our ears and pay no attention.
Science matters, though, even if we ignore it or don’t understand it. You don’t have to believe in gravity for it to hold you to this planet. When scientists warn us that the planet is changing, we don’t have to understand the hows and whys any more than we understand how electricity turns on a light bulb. What is happening to the world impacts everyone and everything living on this planet. That makes science rather important.
The Danger Is Real
One degree doesn’t seem like much to us. We don’t feel a lot of difference between 87° and 88° Fahrenheit. The fact that the US still uses fahrenheit as a measurement instead of celsius is indicative of how scientifically ignorant we are. We don’t understand the scale at all. We think of warming trends as what naturally occurs between March and April. Americans fail to understand how one degree’s increase in global temperature is a big thing.
On a delicately balanced scale, however, even the tiniest changes can have big influences. Living conditions on Earth exist precariously on the most delicate scale one can imagine. One degree is enough to cause considerable glacial melting. One degree is enough to significantly alter the salinity of the oceans. One degree is enough to cause the extinction of species. One degree tips the scale closer to making the planet unlivable.
So far this year, every month has been the warmest on record. We may not see that when our neighborhood is covered in multiple feet of snow, but when the total amount of snow during a winter decreases from blanketing several states to just three or four, there’s a problem. Cyclical weather patterns might explain some changes in moisture, but they don’t account for the severity of global climate changes. Warming comes with hard figures only a fool would ignore.
Nature Doesn’t Nurture
I’ve watched over the past week as storms rolled across the plain states causing large-scale power outages. As I’m writing, friends in parts of Oklahoma and Kansas have been without power for almost a week. This is a region accustomed to storms and even tornadoes, but an electrical storm of this magnitude is unusual and significant.
Deadhorse, Alaska, meanwhile, hit a high of 85°, the highest temperature ever recorded at any location on the Arctic Ocean.
Nature doesn’t give a damn about what you want to believe. All the ideologically-driven opinions in Congress are worthless. When nature feels things are out of balance, it reacts in ways to restore that balance. Those reactions are often severe.
Summer was put on hold last week as the Alps received a very unexpected dumping of snow. Nature chose to not wait.
These reactions a mild compared to what happens if we continue to ignore the warming problem.
We Are To Blame
All scientific indicators point to human development and industrialization as a significant contributor to the warming issue. While we are not the only factor, we are the one which can most easily and readily be altered. There are numerous things we can do, many of them rather simple. By reducing our own carbon footprint, we help keep the planet within that delicate balance required for life.
We have to start listening to science, though. We cannot deny warming trends and we cannot ignore climate science. Continuing to elect representatives who try to ignore science threatens every life on the planet.
I find it interesting that we talk so often about wanting to leave the world a better place for our children and grandchildren. We want to make everything great again. Yet, our actions say exactly the opposite. When we deny science, when we discount warming, when we ignore climate change, we doom our children and grandchildren to air that is unbreathable, water that cannot be purified, and food grown in a laboratory because the ground is no longer fit for farming.
Don’t you think it’s past time for us to warm up to science?