A recent news story asserted that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) falsified evidence about climate change to get politicians to sign the Paris agreement lowering carbon emissions last year. Also during that time, former Secretary of State John Kerry was quoted as saying, “Yesterday, I met in Washington with 45 nations – defense ministers and foreign ministers – as we were working together on the challenge of Daesh, ISIL, and terrorism.” Kerry went on to say, “It’s hard for some people to grasp it, but what we – you – are doing here right now is of equal importance because it has the ability to literally save life on the planet itself.”
While watching the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Rio Olympics, I noted once again the heightened emotional conversation surrounding climate change. It was almost as compelling as the infamous ABC network news special from 2008, Earth 2100. It predicted that by 2015 we would see significant land loss and ultra-extreme temperatures that resulted in $12.99 Milk and $9.00 gasoline. (In reality, 2015 saw a gallon of milk cost $3.39 on average and gasoline, an average of $2.75.) All of these stories are alarming.
So what do we truly know about climate change?
I think the first thing that gets lost on the media and some scientists is the fact that our planet has always experienced climate change. Anyone that studies geology knows our planet has had ice ages and warm periods throughout the centuries, and that recurring, sudden and intense temperature fluctuations (both regional and worldwide) have occurred for millions of years.
From the 1950s through the mid-80s, school children were taught about the forthcoming ice age. Now children are taught that we will soon lose ice caps and land mass, as well as experience extreme heat and all the disastrous complications associated with the unavoidable warm period caused by mankind.
The U.N. predicted in 1989 that global warming would destroy the earth by the year 2000. Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use have only increased since 2000, but average global temperatures have remained virtually level the last two decades, depending on what measurements are employed. Surface temperature indicates virtually no warming trend over the last 15 years.
The point of contention over the last few decades is how much industrialization contributes to climate change (formerly known as global warming, but now known as climate change to catch any extreme weather phenomenon). When data is typically presented with climate change supporting articles, many times it has been altered, modified or is from a limited data set. Larry Bell states that “even the most sophisticated climate models and theories they are based on cannot predict the timing, scale (either up or down), or future impacts—much less the marginal contributions of various human influences.”
Consider these facts. Reviewing global average temperatures from 2000 to 2015, surface temperatures show little to no change or appear to be stable and not rising. Or better yet, “there hasn’t been any warming for at least a decade and a half, and possibly, considerably longer. It’s also worth remembering that about half of all estimated warming since 1900 occurred prior to the mid-1940s despite continuously rising CO2 levels. Also consider that, even today, about 97% of all current atmospheric CO2 derives from natural sources.”
As we find ourselves in a very vitriolic political and media environment regarding climate change, don’t be scared to research some of the claims and keep them in perspective. Climate change exists, it always has, and it always will. The disappointing part is the individuals and groups that publish misinformation, or worse yet, those that work to profit off collective fears through needless regulations and paper schemes.