I do apologise if you’re here as a climate skeptic, unfortunately, I do believe in climate change as I think that science is correct on this one. It has been a subject of interest since I can remember. The term ‘global warming’ was introduced to me when I was in primary school because we were told the polar bears were going to go extinct. As a child, this made me very upset and I couldn’t understand why anyone would let that happen. However, since then, I can understand what is actually going on and how awful it could get. Somehow, some people still think it’s a myth, so here are some arguments that people still hold on to that put them in denial.
It’s getting Colder?
It is thought that if the winters get colder or if summer does not come around until July, that global warming has ‘stopped’. People could also get this idea by looking at the graph which only looks at extreme temperature anomalies. Clearly, there are years of extreme cold such as that between 1941 to around 1950 which people may think of as global warming ‘stopping’. However, it is clear that when looking at the 100-year climate trend, temperature anomalies have been rising in degrees over average periods of 15 years.
How is 1 or 2 Degrees going to make a Difference?
So on a hot summers day, you may feel like the difference between 25 degrees C and 27 degrees C does not affect you that much. However, when you start talking about global average temperatures, it’s a completely different story. Around 27,000 years ago, the Earth was in the Last Glacial Maximum which meant that the sea levels were 100 metres lower than they are today as 32% of the land surface was covered in ice (compared to 10% today). At this time, the average temperature was only 5 degrees C lower than they are today. If temperatures were to increase only 2.7 degrees C, this could increase sea level from melting ice which reduces habitats of terrestrial or shelf organisms. Organisms such as crabs and mussels would have a reduced habitat area (or ecospace) and would suffer a potential extinction (such as the one in the Devonian) and affect food security for those who rely on shelf organisms in their diets.
Sea level is just one aspect of what may change. All aspects of life could also change. This could include weather patterns, energy supplies, crop yields and pollution levels. However, this is such a major issue that this is a post all in itself.
Climate Change is just a Natural Process
So on some levels, this is correct. For example, the position of the sun relative to the Earth or the axis of the Earth could affect how extreme seasons could be (also known as Milankovitch Cycles). However, as seen in point 1, climate trends have been over the last 200 years or so but Milankovitch Cycles occur over periods of over 10,000 years. The climate of the Earth can deal with gradual changes of the Milankovitch cyclicity but the current levels of atmospheric CO2 levels correlated with temperature rise should have occurred over a period of thousands of years.
Aren’t increased Carbon Emissions caused by Volcanos?
A very topical subject at the moment. Volcanoes emit greenhouse gases such as CO2 on what seems like a large scale. The U.S Geological Survey (USGS) reported that volcanoes emit 200 million tons of CO2 per year. Compare this to human activity which emits 24 billion tons of CO2 per year, volcanoes really do not add much to the damage we do.
Trump, “ice caps are now setting records”
To quote Trump himself, “If the ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now.” Now, this is contrary to 97% of all scientific explanation. Michael Zemp who is the director of the World Glacier Monitoring Service said that glaciers are melting at an extreme rate. So basically Trump is correct in terms of ice caps setting records, but rather they, are setting records in terms of how fast they are melting.
CO2 isn’t Rising that Fast
It might not seem like much is changing, but looking at this graph shows that since the Industrial Revolution, CO2 emissions have increased at an unprecedented rate due to the start of burning fossil fuels. Not only CO2 but other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide have also been increasing due to an increase in intensive farming practices. Prior to this, annual CO2 emissions from human activity did not significantly impact the environment as CO2 ppm was stable at around 280ppm but as of April 2018, atmospheric CO2 was 410 ppm which is the highest level since Pliocene (3.6 Mya) which had average summer temperatures that were 14 degrees C warmer than they are now. If this doesn’t imply what could come, I don’t know what could.
Climate Models aren’t Accurate
When people criticise climate models, they tend to be criticising weather predictions. There is a large difference between the two. Weather models predict the current weather whereas climate models have accurately predicted weather trends since the 1960’s.
If it’s so dire, what’s the point in trying to fix it?
It might seem like there’s nothing we can do, but you’re wrong. The Paris Agreement set out in 2015 is attempting to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and make renewable energy more accessible for developing countries, thus helping to reduce CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. It’s not only governments that can aid in reducing climate change, it’s also everyday changes people can make. For example, the nationwide scheme to charge for plastic bags had reduced Englands use for plastic bags by 85% since 2015. A reduced amount of plastic bags can prevent plastic in oceans and allows for marine ecosystems to recover.
If our generation can start to fix the damage we have caused, then future generations can rebuild and regenerate the environment that was once here.
Again, if anyone has any other arguments or points to make, please write a comment and I will do my best to reply.
Cover photo: NASA
First graph: Has Global Warming Stopped?
Second graph: CO₂ and other Greenhouse Gas Emissions