- Politics and Social Issues
Are Facts a Matter of Choice?
Otherwise, accept some facts:
Life is full of choices when it comes to what we choose to believe.
You can be a person of faith or you can be an atheist.
You can be a Republican or you can be a Democrat.
You can believe the Atlanta Falcons will actually win a Super Bowl one day or you can be a Baltimore Ravens fan and actually live the dream.
But when it comes to the issue of climate change, you can accept the facts or you can stick your fingers in your ears and sing "La-La-La" to block them out.
2005 report by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies said more energy was being absorbed from the sun than was being returned to outer space resulting in an unprecedented rise in the earth's temperature.
California Technical Institute Researcher Nate Lewis has written that his research shows the earth's atmosphere remained relatively unchanged for twenty million years. But in the last hundred years, since the beginning of the industrial revolution when many nation's economies switched from being primarily agricultural to being carbon dioxide emitting industrial, the atmosphere has radically changed in ways that will impact not only humanity but also plant and animal life on earth.
The most rapid increase in temperature has occurred since 1970. The ten hottest years, according to the World Meteorological Organization, have been from 1995 to 2005, That organization has kept records since 1860. The measurable difference in that period of time in the earth's temperature is 1.44 degrees Fahrenheit. The difference between a planet that is a frozen ice ball and one that is comfortable for human life is a mere 42 degrees Fahrenheit. That's the weather difference between summer and fall that most places experience every year. It is the difference between needing a light jacket or not.
Now, these same scientists will tell you that the earth has experienced temperature changes throughout its history. Between the eleventh and fifteen centuries the earth experienced a period of cooler temperatures. The Pew Center on Climate Change reports that natural variability cannot account for what has been happening since the late twentieth century.
Studies of the earth's ice cap track the emission of carbon dioxide going back thousands of years. Lewis reports the level in the atmosphere was stable at approximately 280 parts per million as far back as scientists can research. But in the 1950s the rate showed evidence of rising, and by 2007 the rate grew to 384 parts per million and has continued to climb by 2 parts per million a year since. The result: a warmer earth due to what has become called the enhanced greenhouse effect.
Based on current data we are on track to add 100 parts per million of carbon dioxide to our atmosphere in the next 50 years resulting in an additional 42 degree Fahrenheit average temperature increase worldwide. It took us 300 years to add that amount previously, and ten thousand years to add that amount prior to that.
In August of 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck the Mississippi to Louisiana coast the waters in the Gulf of Mexico were about 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the historical average for summers.
A heat wave in Europe in August 2003 had temperatures throughout the month of more then 100 degrees Fahrenheit. More than 35,000 people died. It was considered a once in a hundred year event. By 2050 the weather models estimate those temperatures will be an every other year occurrence.
In the summer of 2007 the Northwest Passage in the Arctic Ocean that had not been navigable in recorded history was able to be reached by ships because so much of the sea ice melted that year. Mark Serreze, senior scientist at the U.S. Snow and Ice Data Center, said the Arctic is the canary in the coal mine for climate warming - the first indicator of life-threatening danger.
March 15 to 21, 2008, The Weather Channel tracked 185 record highs either tied or set when only 28 record lows were either tied or set. Their sources have reported the number of record highs in any given month since that week continue to outpace the number of record lows nationwide.
But science is only science. This issue in America has become the worst thing that can happen to science. It has become political, which means people are now choosing what facts they want to believe and what facts they want to "La-La-La."
The facts you choose to believe determine your actions, and the actions that needed to be taken to deal with climate change should have been made about thirty years ago. Instead thirty years ago solar panels placed on the White House during the Carter Administration were removed when Ronald Reagan moved in and the environment became a political issue.
After presidents Ford and Carter urged higher fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, passenger vehicle mileage grew from 13.5 miles per gallon to 37.5. This change helped weaken Middle East oil conglomerates and damaged the economy of the Soviet Union, a major worldwide oil producer.
The Reagan Administration rolled the standard back to 26 miles per gallon and reduced the budget of the alternate energy programs, particularly the budget of the Solar Energy Research Institute. With the help of a Democratic Congress tax incentives for solar and wind start-up industries came to an end along with environmental regulation going back the the Nixon presidency. All the while Americans became more and more dependent on oil from the Middle East. The political fallout from that fact is the subject of some other hub.
How and why climate change has become a question for our elected officials to debate is not the point of this hub. The point is that facts are facts. They aren't beliefs or political convictions. Science is telling us we are doing a big thing badly, and the time to take steps to correct it is actually long past. We'd better get headed in the right direction - now.
"La-La-La-ing" won't change the facts.
NOTE: For opposing views on this subject go to this article in the WallStreet Journal: