I was challenged recently to ‘bring some balance’ to the argument about climate change and the current hysteria that is being built up due to climate strikes and the media coverage of Greta Thunberg’s speech to the UN Climate Summit.
This is the first of a number of articles about the science behind the climate change theory. And it is a theory. We actually don’t know what is going to happen, we only know what the scientists are telling us.
Here is some of what NASA has to say:
“In Earth’s history before the Industrial Revolution, Earth’s climate changed due to natural causes not related to human activity. Most often, global climate has changed because of variations in sunlight. Tiny wobbles in Earth’s orbit altered when and where sunlight falls on Earth’s surface. Variations in the Sun itself have alternately increased and decreased the amount of solar energy reaching Earth.”
This is modelled by Milutin Milankovitch and was published in the journal Science in 1976. Scientists have been able to model the temperatures of the globe going back 450,000 years and found that major variations in temperature were closely related to these cycles of the Earth’s orbit.
In the last 650,000 years there have been 7 cycles of glacial advance and retreat with the last one ending 7,000 years ago.
However, according to NASA, “These natural causes are still in play today, but their influence is too small or they occur too slowly to explain the rapid warming seen in recent decades.”
“Natural changes to Earth’s climate have also occurred in recent times. For example, two major volcanic eruptions, El Chichon in 1982 and Pinatubo in 1991, pumped sulfur dioxide gas high into the atmosphere. The gas was converted into tiny particles that lingered for more than a year, reflecting sunlight and shading Earth’s surface. Temperatures across the globe dipped for two to three years.”
“Although Earth’s temperature fluctuates naturally, human influence on climate has eclipsed the magnitude of natural temperature changes over the past 120 years. Natural influences on temperature—El Niño, solar variability, and volcanic aerosols—have varied approximately plus and minus 0.2° C (0.4° F), (averaging to about zero), while human influences have contributed roughly 0.8° C (1° F) of warming since 1889.”
So my balance to this argument is; yes, hysteria is not helpful. In fact, fear will cause us all more harm than good. What is needed is mature, reasonable people looking at the science, looking at the facts and data and making decisions on policy and economics that is going to transition us from burning fossil fuels to using renewable energy sources as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
This transition does not mean a major economic crisis will hit us, it means, done well jobs transition with the change. It means there are huge opportunities for innovation, new industries and less reliance on oil and coal. It doesn’t mean that we will never burn or use oil and coal again, it only means we are aware of the impact we are having when we do, so we will do so wisely.
I will go into more of the science being presented from organisations across the globe about climate change and look forward to hearing your thoughts about the science and the opportunities that are ahead of us right now.