A great site, once again, to reference for some information on how to talk with the few global warming skeptics that are out there. The site does not go into a ton of details, but it is informative regardless.
Someone commented on my post “Global Warming Claims Lake” and said the following: “Give me a heads up here, what SUV, Freon Fridge caused the earth to melt the first ice age…matter of fact, what caused the first ice age…if we can’t get the weather correct for the next 7 days…how do we predict 50 years ahead… why do we believe facts are facts [when they come] from [politicians] or [celebrities]?”
As I was responding, I realized I want my comment to be out here on the main page, not just tucked away. I feel that his comments and questions are common, and valid if you do not know a whole lot about climate change or geology and science.
“…if we can’t get the weather correct for the next 7 days…how do we predict 50 years ahead…”
This is a common question and it makes sense why it is asked so often. It’s VERY important to understand the following: weather and climate are very different things, and the level of predictability for each is very different. Climate is defined as weather averaged over a period of time – usually 30 years at minimum. So, yes we are terrible at predicting the weather; I enjoy the surprises the weather might bring: ie a dramatic thunderstorm on a summer afternoon, or hail on your college graduation at the end of May. Climate predictions have far fewer surprises, as they are the the result of the averaged effects that we feel on a day-to day basis. For example, ten of the hottest years on record have occurred in the past 14 years, the hottest one of all was 2005 (as of release of An Inconvenient Truth). That is weather being averaged, and that is showing us that our climate is warming. The reason? We are releasing copious amounts of global warming pollution into the atmosphere as we burn fossil fuels and our agricultural practices spew more pollution into the atmosphere. The mainstream scientific community predicts that this pollution will cause the atmosphere to continue to warm; we can expect a rise in global temperatures if our behavior continues unchecked for much longer. Consequently, we will experience a global sea-level rise as ice caps, glaciers, and landlocked ice melts and dumps into the world’s oceans. As the water warms, it will also expand and increase sea levels further.
He also asked a question about the 2005 vs. 2006 hurricane season, and seemed confused about the link between global warming and hurricanes: There is no established link between global warming and hurricane frequency. None. What we do know is this: water is the fuel for hurricanes. The warmer the water, the stronger the hurricane. The relatively “lackluster” hurricane season in 2006 does not mean that global warming isn’t happening. That was weather. Warming sea surface temperatures due to global warming means that hurricanes will essentially be on steroids. Therefore, what we can predict is that there will be stronger, more intense hurricanes due to global warming, ones that will wreak havoc on our coastlines. We just can’t say for sure how many of them there will be in a given season. Does that make sense?
Concerning the cycle of climate, and the link between CO2 and climate: Long term oscillations in climate, aka: ice ages and interstitial warm periods, have occurred throughout our Earth’s history. Such warm periods have made it possible for our survival. What we know about what is happening right now is this: the rise in temperatures is happening much more rapidly than EVER before, and it is certain that human activities are responsible for this rapid (geologically speaking) heating event. There is no climatological theory in which CO2 does not drive temperature. Therefore, since we know we are increasing CO2 in the atmosphere, we also know that we are causing the warming.
So it’s warming? Why is that a problem? Well, given the predicted consequences (see above), and that many of them are coming to fruition, and our energy crisis – I feel very strongly that we are morally obligated to take concrete action to combat global warming pollution, and instill a sense of urgency in this process.
On celebrity science: Celebrities are not scientists, nor are politicians. They are not coming up with the ideas, or facts, so celebrity science simply does not exist. They are repeating the science they believe in and there is nothing wrong with that. Some claim Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth was alarmist hype, and while he did make the movie dramatic, he did not twist science or do anything to jeopardize the credibility of what his movie communicated. Al Gore became a celebrity due to his political endeavors, but before he was ever a buzzword for environmental consciousness he devoted years and years to studying global warming and wrote “Earth in the Balance,” a passionate book about environmental issues – I suggest you read that as well.