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Climate Change & Understanding the Skeptics by City Tech Blogger Ibitoye Afolabi

Climate change, two words that have been together for close to 80 years and yet remains alien to us. It is sometimes defined as the long-term change in the statistics of the weather, including its averages; it is not an isolated event and has been a noticeable change since the inception of the industrial revolution. So, why have we chosen to ignore the topic even though we have the scientific proof staring us right in the face? I would like to see through other’s eyes to gain insight into the arguments for and against climate change.

They say that honesty is the best policy, but when it comes to scientists and climate change, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Scientists are honest in admitting what they know and do not know about climate change and this seems to be one of the reasoning behind the skeptical views on climate change. Brenda Ekwurzel believes the uncertainty in science is being exploited by both skeptics and policymakers alike, to make excuses mostly due to scientist’s brutal honesty in admitting what they do not know. As we all know, scientists very rarely claim an absolute truth, this is because the entirety and validity of any scientific research is based on factual evidence that can be recreated more than once by others for it to be a valid proof.

Skeptics dismiss the scientific view on the bases that those sharing the views are downplayed in their findings by big corporations, whose businesses are rooted in fossil-fuels, which are responsible for greenhouse-gas emissions. The persistence and dedication in obscuring the facts about climate change has downplayed its dangers to the public, by changing views from “it’s not happening” to “nothing can be done about it”. Challenges to the science came to limelight during the “climate-gate scandal” of 2009, when it was disclosed that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) findings may have included errors, such as predicting the Himalayans glaciers could melt by 2035 and their refusal to include certain information in publications. The IPCC assessments at the time only reflects the state of scientific knowledge available in that time period. Unfortunately, interagency collaborations pose challenges which are expected when varying ideologies are presented in a room, but humans aren’t infallible and whatever errors were made then has since been corrected.

Although, many scientific researchers have expressed their skepticism about human activity having an impact on climate change, postulating that, no supercomputers are capable of predicting the future or accurately understand a gigantic and complex system as the Earth with all the variables it holds. The consequences we face such as extreme weather conditions, melting polar ice caps and glaciers, reduced freshwater levels, and extended 10 -15 mild days, should be glaring enough for us to consider as having an iota of truth to the existence of climate change. On the other side is the argument that human-caused climate change proponents have ignored certain evidence supporting such a claim. It is believed that climate models had accurately reproduced past predictions as well as future predictions that confirmed observed data. The IPCC 2001 model depicting a rise in CO2 levels due to human activity from 1850 through 2000, accurately corresponds to observed data in comparison to models without a rise in human activity caused by CO2. It was concluded that human activity was the primary cause of global warming since the model without human activity could not explain the observed data.

While the need for contrasting views are great, and for climate change to be accepted as an immediate crisis or its existence be acknowledged, the science justifying it must stand on its scientific merit and not on the number of scientists that agrees it exists, it is therefore important to remember that science cannot be swayed. Rejecting outright scientific evidence and proposing a conspiracy theory that believes climate change is fabricated are ill-advised as it delays the preparation that can be made to save lives and the risks climate change poses by downplaying and denial. Whatever excuses we come up with, we should remember that scientist who are specialized in disciplines that understand and studies of this phenomenon, mostly agree on the basis that the Earth is warming. CO2 & CFCs, due to human activity, are the likeliest of causes for most of this warming. Opposing views are generally from big corporations who benefit the most from factors contributing to climate change, i.e. fossil-fuels, coal, & natural gas exploration; all for their own profits.

Proving the case for climate change is the measured increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations in lower atmosphere. The measurements taken from many random locations around the world seems to uphold the changes are all over and not just restricted to a specific continent. How do we change this trend, is it too late, can we still reduce CO2? These and many more are related questions continues to elude us, and more baffling is our inability to know which crazy idea to implement. It’ll be a shame if, despite all of our achievements we are the only advanced specie that goes extinct by its own doing; inability to adapt and ignorant hubris. The below graph shows CO2 rise measured by CSIRO at Cape Grim station in Tasmania.

Why is the climate changing? One response is natural variability: this states climate change as a normal part of the Earth’s nature which relates the interactions between the atmosphere, ocean and land, as well as changes in the amount of solar radiation to the Earth. Geologic records have shown evidence of climate changes in Earth’s past, for instance “Pangaea” a term used to let us know that all continents (40%) were together before drifting apart some 220 million years ago highlights this point.

The effects of climate change are still ongoing in study, much is still been done to understand this and more. Questions asked are in regards to the extent to which it’s occurring, how much is being caused by anthropogenic actions, and the impacts. Hopefully, future studies will reveal the effects on sea level, drought, local weather, hurricanes, economics, health, population, food scarcity etc. With new perspectives, comes new insight (Dr. Temperance Brennan – Bones). I want to be someone who’s given more than they’ve taken and hope to create a better world for my children and fellow human, how about you?












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