I find it amusing that anti-science politicians race around in their high-tech cars and iPods ranting that global warming is a hoax. These anti-science types and their followers enjoy the results of scientific discoveries in their everyday lives. Let me count the ways – air-conditioning, computers, electricity, rockets to the moon and the many things that make our life comfortable in the 21st century. I should not forget nuclear bombs and star-wars capability.
But no matter, these science-deniers will use all science-created gadgets available to spew out disinformation to a gullible public. For want of a vote they would throw this country and the world under the proverbial bus. Maybe they should give up all those scientific amenities and live in a cave. I would allow them fire, a club and a spear.
Those suggesting that scientists in the world have lied about global warming to get financial grants simply don’t know scientists. However, private greedy corporations faced with potential expensive regulation consider undermining science as a bottom line issue. They fill eager politicians’ coffers to confuse and misinform a susceptible public. Bought-and-paid-for politicians and commentators share much responsibility for airing disinformation.
Although reasons are subject to heated debate, legitimate scientists agree that earth temperatures have increased approximately 1.4º F since the early 20th century. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane have noticeably increased. One side suggests rising levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases are a direct result of human action such as burning fossil fuels (FF).
FFs are defined as hydrocarbon deposits such as petroleum, coal or natural gas derived from the accumulated remains of ancient plants and animals. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted by burning FFs are tagged as a principal cause of global warming.
Scientists opposing this opinion argue that human-generated greenhouse gas emissions are too small to substantially change the earth’s climate and that the planet is capable of absorbing those increases. They identify other causes of increasing temperatures, such as fluctuations in the sun’s heat and ocean currents.
Argument aside, climate change includes warming, loss of sea ice, sea level rise, stronger storms and more droughts. Perhaps the answer to “why” lies somewhere in the middle. That the old axiom, “nature will take its course” applies. However, the improved ability to measure the result of both natural and human contributions to warming allows scientists to seek remedies to predictable effects. That should not be in dispute. To deny or vilify global warming can be compared to burying one’s head in the sand. A warming earth will have serious impact on the quality of life of all living creatures.
Disadvantages of warming include higher sea level, flooding and potential disease from floods and evacuation. Decreased agricultural production could cause food shortages, starvation and malnutrition. Extreme weather and increased frequency of severe and catastrophic storms could cause life-threatening conditions. The food chain could be impacted by disruption of animal habitats. Affected flora and fauna would impact the delicate environmental balance.
On a positive note, frozen regions of the earth may experience milder climates and more plant growth. Less energy consumption would be needed to warm colder places. A longer growing season could lead to increased agricultural production.
Global warming is a fact. Scientists have the skill to determine what actions should be taken to minimize the negative effects of a changing environment. Misinformed science-deniers undermine actions necessary to keep our planet safe for coming generations. Politicians should weigh carefully corporate interests versus the need for a healthy planet.
Dr. Marc Yacht, MD is a semi-retired physician residing in Hudson, Florida. Column courtesy of Context Florida.