Climate Change Deniers seem to fall into the same general category as our old friends the “Birthers”. Despite overwhelming proof that their position is wrong, it simply “feels right” that their position is correct. After all, if you admitted to yourself that the planet you are leaving to your kids and grandkids is going to be a vastly altered environment with droughts, floods, famine, and disappearing coastlines, how could you go on without doing something about it? and people like things the way they are.
Peter Kirkup, representing The Climate Reality Project, an organization founded by Vice President Al Gore to “unleash a global cultural movement to demand action on the climate crisis”, spoke at the March meeting of the American River Democrats. He presented an abridged slide show of the current state of change in the world.
Some deniers like to point out events like the unusual snow storms that hit the East and Southeastern US this year, and their favorite quote seems to be “where’s your global warming now, Al Gore!?” Peter pointed out that “The cold snap we had this winter was like the freezer door being broken off. It may have felt cooler in the kitchen for a little while, but it doesn’t mean the whole house is cooling down.” You would of course be insane to think that a broken freezer door was great for your house in a hot summer, but what does it mean for the planet?
Peter shared that the famous “Polar Vortex” was actually pushing the cold from the north to the south, so the freak storms were actually a result of our ongoing climate change, not proof against it. 2013 joined the other recent years as being one of the 10 hottest on record. Changes to the jet stream are cooling some places on the planet, while others face debilitating heat and drought. Increased heat, and subsequent flooding usually means devastating landslides as vegetation is no longer there to absorb the rains.
Meanwhile, the oceans continue to be affected. Along with increased acidification, sea levels are rising, not just because glaciers are melting, but the increase in temperature causes the water to expand.
Is there any room for optimism? Well, there is some. Peter said that if we get on it now, we can limit our temperature increase to a manageable 2 degrees this century. If not, we are looking at a 7 degree increase, which would lead to a variety worst case scenarios.
Opportunities are there, such as our increasing solar and wind power projects, ideas such as “Fee & Dividend” plans or “Cap & Trade” plans, which put a cost to carbon and spend the money on efficiency and paybacks to people for conservation.
Even India and China, which loom large as countries that could tip us over the edge, are working aggressively to reduce emissions and pollution.
What can you do? Educational opportunites are there by exploring websites such as The Climate Reality Project, Skeptical Science, this story in the Huffington Post and others. Then joining these groups and electing representatives who support action on the environment, energy and climate change is crucial to getting things done. Meanwhile, plant trees, use LED and CFL lightbulbs, and ride your bike…