by Doug Sisterson
Is global warming just the result of natural cycles, or of cosmic rays bombarding the Earth? Climate change skeptics say “yes” to such questions routinely and loudly. Have you heard the claim that scientists are split on whether humans are affecting the climate? Have you ever wondered if renewable energy is too expensive to replace fossil fuels? Skeptic-inspired misconceptions about climate change such as these are everywhere: in recent statements from leading politicians; in public opinion polls; and in “balanced” news coverage, which often goes out of its way to give equal weight to science and skepticism.
As a result of this divergence of messages, the general public is understandably confused. We are regularly confronted with arguments that deny climate change is happening or is a problem; these claims come from many directions, including news reports on TV and radio, newspapers and blogs, and even sometimes in direct conversations with climate-change skeptics.
There are indeed things we still don’t know about our planet’s climate and our effect on it, but the basic tenets attacked by skeptics are generally those that the scientific community has established with mountains of evidence. Nearly all skeptic arguments are based on a common error: cherry-picking pieces of data without seeing the big picture. It’s what lies behind the claim that the glaciers are growing and the idea that the planet isn’t getting warmer.
Stepping back, regardless of one’s political or religious perspective, regardless of whether one believes it is happening or not, our planet’s climate is indeed changing, and we are indeed to blame. Effects of climate disruption are already apparent in everything from rising seas to more extreme weather to the fact that native plants once flourishing in our backyards are dying as the local climate zones shift. The responsibility for maintaining the Earth’s climate lies with each of us; while power plants may represent some of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, we are all consumers of the power they produce in one way or another. This isn’t about pointing fingers. It’s about identifying and understanding the problem and, more importantly, taking action to do something about it. Failure to do so puts our children’s future—and that of all subsequent generations—in peril.
Doug Sisterson is co-author (with Seth Darling) of the book How to Change Minds About Our Changing Climate and is also an atmospheric researcher at Argonne National Laboratory. He will be speaking at The Real Truth About Health Conference, which will be held Feb. 2-11, 2018, at the Long Island Hilton, in Melville (RealTruthTalks.com).