Adapting To Climate Change

It seems to me….

Climate change is the greatest threat to humanity, perhaps ever. Global temperatures are rising at an unprecedented rate, causing drought and forest fires, and impacting human health.” ~ Cary Kennedy[1].

The major issue of climate science is settled. There no longer can be any question as to whether the cause is anthropomorphic: humans are the major cause of global warming resulting in a wide range of disruptions to the Earth’s ecosystems. End of discussion.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which reflects scientific opinion on the topic, stated “the science now shows with 95 percent certainty that human activity is the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century”. And, several analyses of scholarly publications indicate widespread consensus among climate scientists on this point[2]. Additional research since release of that report has further strengthen its conclusions.

Members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) found 93 percent of members with a PhD in Earth sciences (and 87 percent of members overall) say the Earth is warming primarily as a result of human behavior. Those who continue to claim the Earth’s warming stems from natural causes or that there is no evidence of warming obviously have little understanding either of the issue or the pending impact of verified scientific environmental findings.

Everyone must understand that the Earth is warming due to human activity, that climate scientists have a firm understanding of climate change, and that scientists need to be trusted regarding the causes of climate change. Information provided by climate scientists regarding the causes of climate change has been full and accurate.

Climate scientists obviously have the best understanding of how to address climate change. Their findings on climate are influenced by evidence based on the best available research and seldom by other considerations such as scientists’ career interests or political leanings as disparagingly claimed by some deniers. Scientists should have a major role in policy decisions about climate matters – more so than the public, energy industry leaders, or national and international political leaders. Elected leaders (politicians) should have either very little or a minor role at most in climate policy-making.

Analogous to the denials encouraged by tobacco companies in the 1990s that tobacco caused cancer, energy companies have made similar claims attempting to sow doubt as to whether serious action needs to be taken on climate change. Over 124 organizations that have taken money from just ExxonMobil, or worked closely with those that did, have attempted to allege that the science is contradictory, that scientists are split, environmentalists are charlatans, liars, or lunatics, and if governments took action to prevent global warming, they would be endangering the global economy for no good reason. Findings these organizations consider a threat are labelled “junk science”; the findings they welcome are labelled “sound science”. The claims by tobacco companies back then were bogus, comparable claims regarding global warming are equally false today.

The issue of climate change is seldom even covered by the national media which does not take the threat sufficiently seriously. While some researchers and journalists believe media coverage to be adequate and fair, a few consider it biased. Most studies of media coverage, however, are neither recent nor concerned with coverage of environmental issues. While most liberal and independent outlets reported it correctly; many conservative outlets remain in denial. Both, however, tended to limit coverage giving preference to reporting current events.

Research[3] showed that TV news outlets gave far too little coverage to the well-documented links between climate change and hurricanes. In 2017, both ABC and NBC completely failed to bring up climate change during their news coverage of Harvey, a storm that caused the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in the continental U.S. When Irma hit soon after, breaking the record for hurricane intensity, ABC didn’t do much better. Coverage was even worse of Hurricane Maria, the third hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. in 2017. Not only did media outlets largely fail to cover the climate connection, many conservative outlets, such as Fox, largely failed to cover Hurricane Maria at all.

Climate change is a relatively slow-moving scientific phenomenon resulting primarily from carbon emissions. A mass murder, candidate debate, or fallout from a White House scandal is much more dramatic and apt to be reported in the media. The notion of balanced coverage may make perfect sense when covering a political convention, but in the culture of science, balancing opposing views may be neither fair nor truthful. It is misleading to give climate deniers or other charlatans equal time with established mainstream scientists. Media coverage of an issue can play an important part in shaping political reality. It is unfortunate that media in the U.S. frequently primarily serves corporate interests by “inventing reality”.

Climate change will result in substantial impairment to the environment. It very likely will bring harm to animal life, damage to forests and plants life, more droughts, more severe storms, and damage to shorelines from rising sea levels.

Power plant emissions need to be drastically restricted; both solar and wind power energy production needs to be expanded while dependence on fossil fuel energies such as coal mining, offshore oil and gas drilling, and hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas is drastically reduced. International agreements to limit carbon emissions can make a big difference in addressing climate change but adherence to those agreements must be monitored. More stringent fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks is extremely important as is having more hybrid and electric vehicles on the road. There also should be corporate tax incentives that encourage businesses to reduce carbon emissions resulting from their actions.

Within the scientific community, there is no debate – an overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that global warming is happening and that human activity is the primary cause. Every one of the past 40 years has been warmer than the 20th century average. The 12 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998 and 2016 was the hottest year on record. Global warming is already having significant and costly effects – and these consequences will only intensify as the planet’s temperature continues to rise.

Heat-trapping emissions being released into the atmosphere must be significantly reduce. Certain consequences of global warming are now inevitable, including sea-level rise, more frequent and severe heat waves, and growing wildfire risks. While these effects can not be avoided, they can be somewhat mitigated by quick and drastic action.

That’s what I think, what about you?

[1] Cary Kennedy is an U.S. politician from Colorado.

[2] Funk, Cary, and Brian Kennedy. The Politics of Climate, Pew Research Center, http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/10/04/the-politics-of-climate/, 4 October 2016.

[3] Good, Jennifer. Putting Hurricanes And Climate Change Into The Same Frame, The Star, https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/09/18/putting-hurricanes-and-climate-change-into-the-same-frame.html, 18 September 2017.

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About lewbornmann

Lewis J. Bornmann has his doctorate in Computer Science. He became a volunteer for the American Red Cross following his retirement from teaching Computer Science, Mathematics, and Information Systems, at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, CO. He previously was on the staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, Stanford University, and several other universities. Dr. Bornmann has provided emergency assistance in areas devastated by hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. He has responded to emergencies on local Disaster Action Teams (DAT), assisted with Services to Armed Forces (SAF), and taught Disaster Services classes and Health & Safety classes. He and his wife, Barb, are certified operators of the American Red Cross Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV), a self-contained unit capable of providing satellite-based communications and technology-related assistance at disaster sites. He served on the governing board of a large international professional organization (ACM), was chair of a committee overseeing several hundred worldwide volunteer chapters, helped organize large international conferences, served on numerous technical committees, and presented technical papers at numerous symposiums and conferences. He has numerous Who’s Who citations for his technical and professional contributions and many years of management experience with major corporations including General Electric, Boeing, and as an independent contractor. He was a principal contributor on numerous large technology-related development projects, including having written the Systems Concepts for NASA’s largest supercomputing system at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. With over 40 years of experience in scientific and commercial computer systems management and development, he worked on a wide variety of computer-related systems from small single embedded microprocessor based applications to some of the largest distributed heterogeneous supercomputing systems ever planned.
This entry was posted in AAAS, ABC, ABC World News, Accord de Paris, American Association for the Advancement of Science, anthropogenic, Carbon-Based, Change, Climate, Climate Change, CO2, Droughts, Electric, Emissions, Energy, EVs, ExxonMobil, Floods, Fossil Fuel, Fox, Fracking, Global Warming, Global Warming, Harvey, Hurricane, Hurricane Maria, Hybrid, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, Irma, Maria, NBC, NBC Nightly News, Paris Agreement, Puerto Rico, Renewable, Scientist, Solar, Solar, Weather, weather and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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