By Matt Tulli
“We’re experiencing record cold temperatures here. Yeah right, global warming.” “If I still have to wear a winter coat at the end of March, I can’t believe global warming.” “Climate change is a natural occurrence, the climate of earth has changed many times over its history. It’s no big deal.”
Climate change (yes, ‘climate change’, referring to the total changing of earth’s climate, not just temperatures) is not a myth, as 97 percent of climate scientists would agree. Climate change can most likely be chalked up to human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels and emitting harmful gases into the air, as most of you know. Unfortunately, though, some people still have the audacity to deny it altogether, solely based on the fact that it was absolutely freezing this winter on the East coast. To that, I would have to use one very simple fact to make you think differently: Ever since temperatures had been officially and accurately recorded, 13 of the 14 hottest years on record have occurred in the 21st century, according to the Weather Channel. The other one? That one occurred in 1998.
There are many different misconceptions about climate change, some absolutely wrong and some close to being right. The most important one is the fact that “Climate Change” and “Global Warming” are interchangeable. This is partly right, considering that average global temperatures are rising, so calling it “global warming” is technically correct. But the term “climate change” includes not only the temperatures, but also evidence of climate change like increasing ocean acidity, more intense storms, and rising sea levels, among others (rising sea levels are due to the ocean water becoming warmer, therefore expanding, not just polar ice melting).
Another inaccurate but popular response to climate change is the fact that climate trends are common in the history of the earth, and we’re just experiencing another one. Well, this one is a little bit better because it at least admits that the Earth’s climate is in fact changing. But, this idea is still inaccurate. Carbon dioxide is being put into the atmosphere at unprecedented levels. For 650,000 years prior to 1950, carbon dioxide never made up more than 300 parts per million in the atmosphere. It reached that level in 1950, and today, it’s all the way up to just more than 400 parts per million. CO2 has already been proven to trap heat, so the alarming increase of temperatures on Earth can most definitely be chalked up to the trapping of heat due to CO2 emissions.
Furthermore, there is a small chance, but still a chance that you hear the misunderstood statement that the environment puts more pollution into the air than humans. This is also true, considering natural ocean and land processes put CO2 into the air at a rate of 780 gigatons per year. However, Earth’s land and its oceans also take in about 780 gigatons of CO2 per year, so it equals out. But now, humans emit 30 gigatons of pollution per year, which throws the balance off.
If we continue to deny or push aside the problem of climate change, the Earth will experience sea level rise, more natural disasters, global temperature rise, increased oceanic acidity, and many other harmful consequences of our carelessness. I’m not trying to turn this into a political debate, but it should be known that Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has publically stated that many alarmists on global warming, “got a problem ‘cause the science doesn’t back them up. And in particular, satellite data demonstrate for the last 17 years, there’s been zero warming. None whatsoever. It’s why — you remember how it used to be called ‘global warming’ and then magically the theory changed to ‘climate change’?” Oh Ted. Before this, he states that, “Today, the global warming alarmists are the equivalent of the flat-Earthers. It used to be [that] it is accepted scientific wisdom the Earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier.”
Senator Cruz, Galileo had nothing to do with proving the theory of Earth being flat as wrong. Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree on the issue of climate change, and disagree with your opinion. Meanwhile, the flat-Earth idea was widely denied in Galileo’s time. In fact, in 200 B.C., Greek mathematician Eritosthanes calculated the circumference of the Earth. Circumference, as in circles.
It may not seem like that big of a problem today, but I would rather address it now than leave it up to our generation to figure out a massively devastating issue 30 years from now.