30 June 2021   Leave a comment

As many in the world, including those of us in Western Massachusetts, bake in high temperatures and humidity, we all should consider the reality that our dangerous discomfort is a result of climate change. The difference between weather and climate is an important distinction and our tendency to think about daily discomfort as merely weird weather is natural. But an increasing amount of evidence points to a different conclusion that today’s weather is the consequence of a more systemic problem which we call climate change.

In fact, the evidence is overwhelming. Deutsche Welle cites some of the evidence:

“And a 2019 analysis of 11,602 peer-reviewed articles on climate change published in the first seven months of 2019 found scientists have reached 100% agreement on anthropogenic global warming. That research was carried out by a James Lawrence Powell, an American geologist and author of 11 books on climate change and Earth science.

“‘If an alternative theory of what is driving climate change rather than greenhouse gases would be supported by research and evidence, such work would be groundbreaking,’ said Benjamin Cook. ‘It would be Nobel Prize-level study. But we do not see this research.’

“Human-caused climate change is endorsed by the IPCC. As far back as 1995, the intergovernmental body said ‘the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.’

“‘A scientific approach means looking at the data, observations and model results to make conclusions,’ said Helene Jacot Des Combes, a climatologist at the University of the South Pacific, IPCC author and adaptation adviser to the Marshall Islands government. 

“‘And this all tells us that the current climate change is caused by human activities.'”

More to the point, many analysts believe that the current heat wave in the Pacific northwest is definitely an indicator of climate change. Writing for the Washington Post, Ishaan Tharoor summarizes some of those views:

“But on a warming planet,it does seem increasingly par for the course. ‘Many have expressed shock about this unprecedented heat wave. Yet the writing has been on the wall for decades,’ wrote the Capital Weather Gang’s Jason Samenow. ‘Since the 1970s and 1980s, climate scientists have warned that global warming would make heat waves more frequent, long-lasting and intense.’

“Still, the current wave is startling. ‘Meteorologists estimated that a heat dome of this size and scope is so rare it should be expected only once every several thousand years,’ wrote my colleagues. ‘But human-caused warming makes extremes like this more common, scientists say. Unless people drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years, this heat wave doesn’t represent a ‘new normal’ but rather a worrying taste of the effects to come.'”

One would think that these extreme weather events would convince any rational person that action should be taken in order to avoid a much more difficult future, but there does not seem to be any consensus that dramatic steps are necessary. The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found that there are wide discrepancies in the US on the issue determined by political preferences:

“The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, or YPCCC, the publisher of this site, has been using nationally representative surveys for 12 years to track which Americans think they have personally experienced global warming.

“The data show that Democrats and Republicans living in the same states or counties — or even sharing the same roof — can be a world apart when it comes to perceived experience with global warming (Fig. 1). While 60% of Democrats nationally say they have personally experienced global warming, only 22% of Republicans agree.”

In many respects there is clear evidence that the issue of climate change has been deliberately distorted by the fossil fuel industry. The Guardian ran an article on the evidence which is disturbing. As early as 1979, one of the major fossil fuel corporations did research that indicated that greenhouse gases were likely to cause environmental disruptions:

“For decades, the country’s leading oil and gas companies have understood the science of climate change and the dangers posed by fossil fuels. Year after year, top executives heard it from their own scientists whose warnings were explicit and often dire.

In 1979, an Exxon study said that burning fossil fuels ‘will cause dramatic environmental effects’ in the coming decades.

“’The potential problem is great and urgent,’ it concluded.

“But instead of heeding the evidence of the research they were funding, major oil firms worked together to bury the findings and manufacture a counter narrative to undermine the growing scientific consensus around climate science. The fossil fuel industry’s campaign to create uncertainty paid off for decades by muddying public understanding of the growing dangers from global heating and stalling political action.”

I seriously doubt that the fossil fuel industry will pay any price for its duplicity. It certainly has the wealth to make a major contribution to the amelioration of climate change. But the rest of us, and our children and grandchildren, will pay the price for their greed.

Posted June 30, 2021 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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