Thursday, April 7, 2011

Climate Change Skepticism

In my endeavours to get some large scale action executed to reverse climate change, I have run into a few skeptics.  Climate scientists are ridiculed, and are accused of tweaking numbers in order to keep their job.  Surprisingly these claims do not come from an uneducated slob, but rather educated individuals such as those with Engineering degrees.  

Thanks to media outlets like Fox News and certain corporate industries, they public has the belief that there is no consensus between climate scientists , when in fact 97% of all climate scientists agree that climate change is happening.  For individuals to claim that climate scientists are tweaking numbers in order to get research money and keep their jobs is just preposterous.  In fact the public has such a deep belief that this is the case a number of investigations have taken place, and guess what the scientists were found innocent.  Scientists are governed by a body of scientists to ensure that they are completing their work ethically, and in such a way to prevent bringing harm to the general public.  So it is quite baffling for an engineer who is also governed by a board, to claim that the entire climate body would risk their reputation and integrity in order to keep their job. 

I know that I am certainly not a climate scientist, and I am sure that the majority of society is not as well.  Climate science is a complicated matter that requires extensive education and specialization.  It is the job of climate scientists to study the climate, and present their findings to society, it is what they are paid to do.  Doctors specialize in improving human health, they have taken extensive education, so when a doctor recommends a certain remedy to an ailment we generally accept the diagnosis. We accept that physicists know what they are doing when they study super conductors, but not climate scientists because it is an inconvenience.  Why is it allowed for someone that is not a climate scientist to discard their findings if they do not agree with the findings? 

Climate change is a significant finding, a problem that is caused by our behaviors.  Climate change shows that the frequency of destructive droughts, flooding, mud slides and abnormal weather patterns such as hurricanes, tornadoes, thunder storms will increase.  Our present world is increasingly global, our mangos come from India, our tomatoes and peppers from south America, so when a natural disaster strikes these regions, wiping out the majority of a crop the entire world suffers from the lack of food which drives up costs.  Birds migratory patterns are being disrupted, and if birds do not migrate back north for the summer insects with have one less predator and their numbers will dramatically increase.  Pine beetles are proliferating due to warmer winters, and are wreaking havoc to forests.  The bees which we rely on to pollinate our food are being wiped out due to our over use of pesticides.  Our oceans are warming up, which is allowing king crabs to invade Arctic waters, whose current inhabitants are not used to predators.  Jelly fish have been taking over our oceans disrupting fishing, and entire species of fish are being wiped out due to overfishing.  The whole world is connected and if you upset the balance in any way the consequences are never negligible. 

Too often I find in my discussions that an individual will discredit climate change based on their immediate environments.  This is very dangerous way to look at the problem since it is a global problem, some areas are going to be hit harder than others, at different times and in different ways. 

I often run into the personal attacks of climate scientists behaviors, such as their use of an airplane to get to a conference in Copenhagen.  This is also sets a dangerous precedent that we can disregard the entire argument of climate scientists simply because of one flaw they may have as a human being.

Often you will hear the argument that enforcing climate change measures will cost jobs in the dirty industries.  Some jobs will be lost from the dirty industries, but an immense quantity of jobs will also be created.  As homes, buildings, businesses are all made efficient you will have to hire plumbers to do piping, mechanics to tweak turbines, electricians, welders, labourers and managers to coordinator them.  You will also have to hire engineers to design geothermal systems, electrical systems, and turbines. 

It is very clear that the automobile and energy industries have immense power and money, and it is very human to want to maintain that status. 

In order to reverse climate change it is going to require drastic changes from society, and no this does not mean that we will all be living in caves.  This means that we will be increasing the efficiencies of our current systems.  Instead of using natural gas to heat every home, we would instead use sustainable methods such as trombe walls, geothermal heating, solar heating.  We will have to better conserve our water which is vital to our survival.  We will have to eliminate wasteful one time uses of water, and collect the water from our showers and taps for reuse in our toilets.  We have to eliminate waste even before it is produced from going to the landfill and implement better ways of reuse to drastically reduce the need for extraction of new resources.  We are going to have to eliminate our reliance on extraction based fuels, replaced with renewable solar, tidal, and wind energy sources.  We need to increase our wild life conservation zones and enforcement.We will have to make some sacrifices, mainly in the department of our over consumption such as taking shorter showers and not driving 5 blocks in a pick-up to get your groceries. 

This also requires the help of the government to set laws so that this can be enforced.  Our governments are a crucial ally in reversing global warming as they have the tax base which can be used to provide families with the capital to renovate their homes and reduce their impacts.  So far our governments have not been acting against global warming nearly as much as they should.  It is still legal for retailers to sell high flow toilets, and Canada still has a asbestos mine for starters.  We still provide subsidies for the oil industry which should be transferred over to renewable energy developments.

Everyone know what needs to be done, however it seems that everyone is holding off since the vast majority is not acting.  We as individuals in our society are constantly comparing our actions to those around us.  So if nobody else is acting to reduce their impact, we as an individual do not feel inclined to act differently.  The majority of society feels "normal" if they mimic the actions of their fellow human beings.  That being said you don't have to wait for your peers to start acting, this is your future, your environment, your air, your water, wouldn't you want the best for it?

Change is difficult, however we can all make the best of it by working together.

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