Nature Cannot Be Fooled

"For successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
for nature cannot be fooled."
Richard Feynman
Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster
June 6, 1986

You may have heard global warming publicly debated, either on television or in the government. The public opinion seems to be that whether or not the issue is real is up for debate, and that there is an equal amount of evidence to support both sides. But is that really true? The global average temperature has increased by 1 degree Fahrenheit since the mid twentieth century, and while that may not seem like a lot, the global average temperature was only around 5 to 9 degrees lower than now when glaciers covered most of North America. The US government has no national position on global warming, but we now know for certain that global warming is real, man-made, a major issue, and therefore should be accepted as such by the government.

The government should accept the phenomenon of climate change because there is a massive amount of evidence to show that global warming is human-caused. When sunlight hits the atmosphere, some heat is reflected, some absorbed by the earth, and some absorbed by the atmosphere. Certain gasses in the atmosphere, such as CO2 and methane, trap heat particularly well. This phenomenon is known as the “greenhouse effect,” and has been well demonstrated through lab research. Human production of CO2 has massively increased since the industrial revolution, due to the combustion of fossil fuels. The increase in CO2 levels have been accompanied by a rapid temperature change, as more heat is absorbed by the greenhouse gasses, rather than escape the atmosphere. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a very respected organization, and works with NOAA to analyze data relevant to climate change. The EPA stated in its 2014 report that “Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are the most significant driver of the observed climate change since the mid-20th century.” The EPA supported this statement by showing large amounts of evidence of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations and showing evidence for the heat retention of observed greenhouse gasses. This clearly shows that the only way for us to stop global warming is to stop producing greenhouse gasses. In order to do this we must halt deforestation, stop burning fossil fuels, and switch to renewable and nuclear power sources. However, climate skeptics (many financed by fossil fuels companies) take desperate stances to attempt to disprove global warming. A popular global warming skeptic argument is that multiple effects on the earth’s temperature exist, particularly anomalies in the sun’s temperature due to changing sunspot activity, and “global wobbling,” which refers to changes in the earth’s tilt and orbit affecting temperature (this effect is what caused and ended the ice ages). A 2013 study in Nature Geoscience found that the sun’s temperature anomalies had a “minimal effect” on the northern hemisphere climate over the past 1,000 years, and that it could not explain the sudden temperature increase that is occurring today. Another 2013 study found that the sun could not have contributed to more than 10% of modern global warming. The effect of “global wobbling” takes place on such timescales as 10,000, 50,000, and 100,000 years. Because of its extremely slow effect, this phenomenon cannot explain the sudden, rapid temperature change of the 20th century. To summarize, there is a huge amount of evidence to support the position that the observed climate change is both real and man-made, and therefore should be accepted as such by the government.

Another reason the US government should accept global warming is because there is widespread scientific consensus on the subject. A survey of over 4,000 scientific papers that were published on the subject of global warming found that 97.1% endorsed the position that global warming is both real and man-made. Other studies have found even stronger consensus. Many credible scientific organizations such as NOAA and NASA support the position that global warming is real and man-made.The National Academy of Sciences and the EPA have separately concluded that the warming of earth in recent decades is unequivocally caused by human activity. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated in its 2013 report that it finds that “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.”  The IPCC is an international organization composed of thousands of scientists from 195 nations. This clearly demonstrates that there is international scientific consensus that climate change is real, and hence should be accepted by the government.

Global Warming will have disastrous consequences for the entire planet if not stopped. The IPCC stated in its 2007 summary for policymakers that “taken as a whole, the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time.” The summary went on to show multiple effects climate change will have on the planet. This clearly shows that climate change must be stopped. Raising the earth’s temperature dramatically alters weather patterns, and is the cause for the modern increase in extreme weather conditions, such as hurricanes and heat waves. These extreme conditions damage crops, damage property, and kill large numbers of people. Further, deglaciation and melting polar ice are raising sea levels at an accelerating rate. Over the past century, the sea level has risen by four inches, much faster than sea level rise by natural means. This rapid increase puts coastal cities at risk of floods, and entire islands may have to be evacuated. Further, global warming promises massive ecological damage. One major example is coral reefs: the ocean acts as a major carbon sink, but increase in carbon concentrations in the water raises the acidity. The acidic water kills coral and fish species. This is also true of such ecosystems as the arctic. Receding polar ice puts such animals as walruses and polar bears at risk of extinction. Overall, it has been predicted that global warming will result in large-scale extinction and reduced diversity of ecosystems. Further, changing weather and extreme temperatures will severely damage crops, leading to economic collapse and famine. All of these changes may not be reversed for centuries, due to carbon’s long lifetime in the atmosphere. Therefore, global warming is among the greatest issues of this century because if it is not stopped very soon, the entire planet will face major consequences.

The phenomenon of climate change is extremely well-evidenced, supported by massive scientific consensus, and a major issue for the world today. Global Warming is real and man-made, and should be accepted as such by the government. And despite popular conservative arguments that fighting climate change would hurt the economy, the only cost of switching to clean energy would be to the fossil fuels companies and their doomed industry. Another popular anti-environmentalist argument is that climate scientists are being paid money to say that global warming is real. This is a fallacy, because if scientific neutrality could  be influenced through money, it would be the oil and coal corporate giants paying scientists to say that global warming is not real. This is because those corporations, notably Koch enterprises, are multi billion-dollar organizations that have been shown to have no qualms about influencing politics for profit. We know this because many of the politicians who are global warming deniers are being funded by oil and coal companies. This corruption is a major reason why global warming is not already accepted by the US, and can help explain why the public opinion is that global warming is a subject that is up for debate. Unless we act, we will suffer the consequences of global warming, and we will not be shielded by our disbelief. Nature cannot be convinced, nature cannot be negotiated with, and nature cannot be fooled.



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