Climate ‘warming’ should be ‘change’
Global warming is over. It is a tired and trite phrase and presents a poor picture of reality.
It is time for a new paradigm: global climate change. The greenhouse effect, which traps heat in Earth’s atmosphere warming the land and the oceans, is only one aspect of global climate change.
Heat-powered high and low pressure systems such as the “arctic vortex” that pulled freezing air into Fayette County recently are another.
Rising ocean levels from thermal expansion and melting ice are another.
Warming is, however, at the root of these. Based on multiple independent lines of investigation it is certain that Earth is warming, slowly and over a long period of time. But it is warming.
The last two decades of the 20th century were, on average, warmer than any decade since 1850. The first decade of the 21st century was even warmer. The CO2 content of the atmosphere has increased by about 40 percent since pre-industrial times, and is higher than in the past 800,000 years.
Since about 1960, the rise in temperature and the rise in CO2 are closely correlated (however, correlation does not prove causation). Ice sheets and glaciers, worldwide, are melting. Ocean temperatures are rising. Sea level has risen by about 7.5 inches over the past 110 years.
These are facts. To deny them would be perverse. It would be equivalent to denying that the earth is a sphere, that the sun is a star and that the stars are suns, and that the force of gravity acts on every body that has mass.
We can draw conclusions from these and other facts and from computer models and simulations. The models, simulations, and conclusions may be debated — by those who understand them. They may be denied by those who choose not to understand them or who are unable to think for themselves.
Here are some of the conclusions: there is a significant human-caused component in the level of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. The atmosphere will continue to warm. Sea level will continue to rise. Weather will continue to become more extreme.
Why should anyone living in Fayette County, Ga., care? We’re not in Bangladesh or on a Pacific atoll where rising sea levels have displaced many people and threaten the existence of some islands. We don’t live on the coast of this country, so the devastation of a Katrina or a Sandy is only a tale of the tragedy of others.
We should care because global climate change will likely mean that our droughts will get dryer, our rainy seasons more prone to flooding, our summers hotter and our winters colder. At some point, this will become more than a nuisance.
We must learn to think for ourselves, and disregard the propaganda from pundits and those who would deny the facts. We must not denigrate, but must teach all science, including evolution and cosmology. We must acknowledge the facts.
Or, we can rear an ignorant generation and leave them to suffer the consequences.
Peachtree City, Ga.