On Climate Change

       This issue needs to forever be put to bed, so let’s sing it a sweet little lullaby and then suffocate the shit out of it with a pillow, okay? The time for discussion is long past, people. So, once and for all, I’m going to unequivocally end the conversation on climate change with this post. And when all is said and done, it won’t matter what you believe about global warming, or even whether or not it, in fact, exists.

 

       That we have a presidential candidate who decries climate change as a “hoax” and “bullshit,” is mind boggling on a scale that defies comprehension. Why? Think about it for a minute. Whether global climate change is a legitimate threat or not, Donald Trump’s outright refusal to even acknowledge its existence as a potential concern for our future, could be catastrophic for the United States. It means that he will not heed or even hear any warnings about it, or do anything to alter course in an effort to prevent the possibility of exacerbating the issue. It is no different than refusing to accept overwhelming evidence that North Korea has achieved the ability to nuke the U.S. mainland solely because we don’t believe they’re capable—or worse, because we don’t recognize them as a legitimate nation. To say, “Bah! That’s nonsense,” utterly disregards a possible existential threat to the American people. Any candidate who flatly refuses to recognize a conceivable and measurable danger to our country because it doesn’t align with his or her own personal beliefs should be disqualified from holding office. Period.

       There are a handful of reasons that people give for not believing in climate change. I have yet to hear many, if any, that rely on scientific evidence. Or logic for that matter. The closest I can really come up with is that satellite data has shown an increase of volume in the Antarctic ice sheet. A full third of the more than 25% of people who don’t believe in climate change say it’s because it’s "still cold in winter." They have no grasp of the distinction between weather and climate—as demonstrated by Senator Jim Inhofe’s infamous (and idiotic) snowball “evidence” in Congress. Another 22% of that 25% have either no reason for their disbelief, or simply don’t know why they don’t believe it. That’s right, more than half of the skeptics out there have no legitimate reason to doubt it whatsoever. They’re either ignorant of the science altogether or can’t even articulate a legitimate reason why they disagree. They just do.

       Others fall back on a similar “hysteria” generated by a number of reports in the 1970s that there existed a “global cooling,” which might mark the dawning of a new Ice Age. A recent debater of the subject suggested that such “cooling” claims dating back more than a century were proof enough that climate change is bogus. For starters, this is a nonsensical false equivalency—just because we were mistaken in our beliefs at a previous point in history doesn’t somehow negate every subsequent theory on the subject. That would be akin to saying that the world can’t be round(ish) because we were wrong to have once thought it was flat. For another, it’s a myth that global cooling received the kind of consensus among the scientific community that global warming enjoys(?) today. It also fails to account for the fact that our scientific knowledge has dramatically increased from one hundred, or forty, or even twenty years ago. Put simply, we know more now. And we know more thanks in large part to the efforts of scientists—you know, the people who actually study this kind of thing for a living.

       “But the scientists are in cahoots! They’re just after the grant money that the government provides them to continue to pursue the outcomes that perpetuate this false narrative.” We’ve all heard the numbers (though even these are debated): 97% of climate scientists concur that global warming is real. Okay, first of all, 97% of any group of people agreeing on any subject is damn near unheard of regardless of circumstance. These are people with a variety of political and religious affiliations and beliefs, almost all of whom have said precisely the same thing: that the earth is warming—dramatically—and because of this change, there are certain things that we can expect to happen: reductions in global sea ice, glaciers and land snow, rising sea levels and temperatures, an increase in the acidity of ocean waters, droughts and other extreme weather patterns… But for the time being, let’s ignore the fact that all of these measurable, verifiable factors are actually occurring and talk about what science actually is.

       According to Merriam-Webster, science is: “knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation.” Now, like many of the deniers out there, I’m not naïve enough to believe that scientists are immune to the temptations of financial gain. On some level, however miniscule, I’m sure that monetary motivations sometimes infiltrate, and to a degree even steer, the conversations and conclusions within the scientific community. It has to, because without adequate funding, many of the sciences would lack the resources required for continued exploration. However, by and large, science is the pursuit of knowledge. Scientists are influenced primarily by the thrill of discovery and understanding obtained through research and employment of the scientific method. To therefore assume that as a community 97% of climatologists have abandoned their search for enlightenment and instead colluded to provide doctored evidence of a manufactured global crisis, is absurd. And to what end, exactly? What do they stand to gain? More funding? Funding for other scientists outside of their field to examine ways that we can slow or reverse the warming process? To create civil unrest? And what of the scientist who comes along and uncovers this massive liberal conspiracy? Is it not in his or her best interest to make the very discovery that changes our understanding of climatology, as it’s now known? How has that not happened already? Where is the smoking gun that undoes what nearly every climate scientist agrees is occurring?

       But it’s more than that. It’s not simply climate science that must be involved in this vast leftist collusion. It too must include biologists. Marine biologists. Botanists. Dendrologists. EcologistsMeteorologists. Paleoclimatologists. Oceanographers. Chemists. All have independently observed and documented the measurable impacts of climate change in their own areas of expertise. To simply say that global warming is “junk science,” requires one to ignore and call into question the validity of the many sciences that have observed the outcomes that verify its existence. Not coincidentally, this is the same reason why I don’t believe that Earth is a mere 6000 years old. It’s not simply that Darwin’s Theory of Evolution dictates that it can’t be, it’s that a whole host of sciences (biology, physics, astrophysics, astronomy, geology, geomorphology, chemistry, biology, paleontology, etc.) all independently suggest that the planet is 4.5 billion years old. That so many things would need to be wrong for the opposing view to be right defies reason, not to mention Occam’s razor. The denial of overwhelming evidence because it falls contrary to your personal beliefs (or lack thereof) is the epitome of ignorance (or hubris—take your pick). As is presuming to know more or better than the people who actually study these things and have dedicated their lives to understanding them. But maybe Armchair Scientist Trump is actually smarter than Businessman Trump and the multitude of exceptionally brilliant people out there in the scientific community. I’m sure he’d tell you so.

       But here’s the billion-dollar question: What difference does any of this make? What’s the point of the debate, exactly? If global warming is real and we all work to reduce our collective carbon footprint, then perhaps (if it’s not already too late) we avert an extinction-level event in our relatively near future. And what if climate change is just so much bullshit? Well, horror of horrors, we will have bequeathed to our children and grandchildren a cleaner, healthier planet on which to live, free from the reliance upon a finite supply of fossil fuels. Where’s the harm in finding better, smarter, cheaper ways to live that don’t potentially harm or destroy the ecosystems we need to survive? Even if we aren’t contributing to climate change (we are) and even if it doesn’t exist (it does), why are some of us so against creating a brighter future, irrespective of the reason?

       Assuming climate change to be a hoax is, quite literally, placing a very risky bet on an infinitesimally small and ever-shrinking possibility that all will be okay if we just stay the course we’re on. The smart money is on the science. Then again, Trump has bankrupted five casinos—maybe playing the smart money isn’t his strong suit.

 

      But hey, if you’re still convinced that climate change doesn’t exist, I’ve got some beachfront property to sell you. And just think, you won’t even need flood insurance for it. 

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© 2014-2019, Daniel Schuette