There is no more a cringe-worthy question that I get than this.
“Do you believe in Climate Change/Global Warming?”
I’m always like here we go, the answer is simple. No, I do not believe in climate change, I know there is climate change. It’s a silly question actually because there is no belief system involved. What you believe doesn’t always requires facts, it requires faith. So for climate change, beliefs don’t really work when you are presented with facts.
There is ample and conclusive evident that the climate is changing and in fact warming over the past 100 years plus. The recent past few decades the acceleration of this warming is unprecedented in the record books we keep. Even without getting into the cause of this warming or if it’s alarming, good or bad. We know it’s happening and it will impact the way we live. For some it might be good for others, it will be really bad. I know whatever the cause it will impact the weather I forecast. It’s like when we get a severe thunderstorm with straight line wind damage around here everyone immediately says tornado. I got news for you; your house doesn’t care if it was a tornado or straight-line winds it just cares that it was hit with 80-100 mph winds.
The problem we really have is how we talk about this topic. The loudest voices seem to fall into two categories. Both of which do little to help figure out what is going on and both very unscientific in their stances. Those are who I like to call the 0% and 100% crowd.
On one hand you have people who think this is a hoax and there is nothing going on. They think there is no way humans have any impact on their environment. Even though they live in houses or cities that were once forests or prairies and now are full of concrete & steel. I mean we all learned the water cycle in elementary school. Do you honestly think that a town, city or subdivision built where there use to be a forest doesn’t have some change or influence on that cycle? I’m not even talking CO2 here yet either just simple Urban Heat island and storm water issues. Water Vapor is actually a bigger Greenhouse gas than CO2 by the way. Somehow with all our technology and advancement which most has been good, these people see no influence on our environment. Just look at this Google Earth Image of Charlotte from 1984 to now. You think this has had no impacts on our local climate? None at all?
This crowd at times seems like their heart is in the right place. They know we are having an influence on our climate and environment. The problem is they think that’s the only influence. Literally, everything that has or ever will happen is because of human influence. This like the 0% crowd is based on un scientific principles that we know to be true. Not all bad weather or every cloud in the sky is caused by climate change and always saying so before the facts are revealed doesn’t do much better than those thinking it’s all a hoax. Like home runs in the steroid era of Baseball, there were more, but not all the home runs were steroid based. Some were just regular home runs!
If we can move on from the 0% and 100% stances, we can start to look at what’s going on and have better discussions. Mankind is havening an influence on our climate; it’s okay if right now you think it’s small or you think it’s large. Just don’t fall into a 0% or 100% mentality. Though the evidence would suggest, it’s large, at least recognize what is going on.
Politics messes everything up:
You are shocked it took me this long to get to this topic, right? Well, this is why we can’t have nice things. People view so many things through a political lens. Climate change is dominated by this. We can’t deny that but here’s the thing. Even in politics, we argue ideas and solutions to problems with our political viewpoints. Why when it comes to climate change, do we argue the problem first? I mean we all know poverty, terrorism, childhood obesity, the economy, unemployment are problems right? We may vary on how bad or how high a priority each one is, but we know they exist. Don’t we? We just argue for solutions that fit with our political leaning. In the end usually, a comprise of both ends up working best for all of us. If I’m on the right or left in this country, it’s okay to argue for solutions from that standpoint. That’s a debate worth having.
Sometimes I think politics are like sports fans. You root against bad guys when they are on the other team. Then your team trades for them or signs them as a free agent and then you are okay with the bad guy. Be consistent, be a fan of the truth, not a side.
In the end:
I’m a science guy and when looking at science I try to take my inherent bias out of it. It’s like with snow forecasts, I like snow but I learned long ago I like getting the forecast right more than I like snow. So don’t fall for the echo chambers we build around us on information. Look for the truth look for facts based on evidence not cherry picked. Trust me there is way too much of that going on. If you think climate change is a big deal it’s okay to call someone out who jumps to false claims even if it supports that idea. If if you think climate change isn’t all that big of deal you need to call people out when they say nothing is going at all. Like in many things is life there are no sure things, so stop arguing from a 0% or 100% position which pretends there are.