Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tepidus Plagiarius

So, climate change scientists have been having a rough time of it lately. Some of their data is missing, some of it they skewed to get better results, and the "Global-Warming" skeptics have been all over it like flies on rotting meat.

Notice how I put "Global-Warming" in quotes (twice)? Yeah, there's a reason for that. The real issue most climate scientists are trying to deal with is not really whether the planet is getting warmer (though a lot of data and an obscene amount of glacier melt suggests it is). What climate-change scientists are really attempting to determine is how much the activities of humans change the climate.

Where "global-warming" comes in is in the vast amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases that humans have been pumping into the atmosphere in greater and greater doses. But global-warming is not the whole issue. Not even close.

One skeptic argument I've heard a lot is that the world has been around millions (or thousands, if you are a conservative Christian) of years, and humans are so insignificant that to think they could affect this planet is like thinking flies could bother an elephant.
First off: what a dumb argument. Yes, a couple of flies would hardly bother an elephant, but if every fly in the entire world swarmed around one elephant, that elephant would suffocate to death.
Second: The most rudimentary chemistry and geophysics prove that humans affect the environment. There is no question about it, it is a fact. What Climate Change Science attempts to figure out is "How" and "How Much". Every time a species becomes extinct due to the direct influence of man (ie. hunting or destroying their habitat) we've changed the global environment. Every time we divert the natural flow of a river or chop down a forest we've changed the global environment. The only question to ask is "how bad will the consequences be?"

Skeptics don't ask that question. They either ignore it or assume there won't be any consequences. Why? What's so bad about wondering what the consequences of stripping and polluting our planet?
The reason is obvious: pure selfishness.

The other main problems skeptics have is they bury their heads in the sand, metaphorically speaking. They will point at all the graphs, and all the data, and say something like, "the world warms and cools in cycles, and it's been doing that for as long the world has been around, and nothing we can do will change that."
Except there is one graph they aren't looking at.
So, recorded history shows that civilized human beings have been around for around 6 thousand years. Let's say we add another millennium for the time that didn't get recorded, hasn't been found yet, or destroyed, and we're looking at around 7,000 years of civilized human history. In those 7 thousand years, man has polluted, harvested, and destroyed the natural resources of this planet.
The skeptic jumps in at this point and says, "Exactly! And the planet hasn't deviated from it's cycle of warming and cooling in all that time."
But here's a detail that often gets overlooked:
It took humans 6,950 years to reach a global population of approximately 3 billion people. And then it took only 50 years to double.
There is no data we could possibly look at to suggest how doubling the global population in 50 years has affected the environment. And in twenty years, the global population is expected to increase by another 3 billion people.

And now, do you really expect me to believe that taking 6,950 years worth of pollution, doubling it, and then cramming that into the space of merely 50 years is not going to cause environmental problems? And this is without taking into account the rapid increase of carbon consumption associated with the Industrial Revolution.

Look at our oceans. 50 years ago, you would never have found an area of the Pacific Ocean, twice the size of Texas, filled with garbage.
Over the past 50 years, the demand for freshwater has increased 600%, even though global population has only doubled. Extreme water shortage is definitely one aspect of climate change.
While recycling and recovery has helped reduce the rate of our waste, the size and number of landfills increases along with the global population. More and more of our landmass is getting filled with more and more garbage. There is no way to look at that other than as "bad". Bad for our health, bad for our environment.

And I haven't even mentioned "global warming" yet. And really, if you look around at our rate of consumption and waste, do I really need to?
Man-made climate change is a reality, and just because there is a lack of data as to what the consequences may be doesn't mean there won't be any. It's time for a change folks. It's no longer at the point where we can ask our children to clean up our mess. We're at the point where we should ask if our children are even going to survive our mess.