Friday, January 4, 2008

A World of Change...

The problem of global warming is real. No matter how much skeptics cherry pick or doubters deny, the evidence is clear; climate is changing. The effects can already be seen with the recent droughts in the southeast, or increase in category 4 and 5 hurricanes, or the higher than average temperatures over the last couple decades. However, just because we can’t see something doesn’t mean its not there. Several effects may be “there” but are either just too gradual for us to notice, or so regrettable that we refuse to believe they can be occurring. Sea level rise is a serious issue that will affect millions soon, but cannot necessarily be seen like an intense hurricane. Declining biodiversity and the introduction of foreign diseases is something that is gradual and too “slow” to catch with the naked eye. Even the drop in ice cover cannot be visually observed over a day, but rather over years. Nonetheless, these effects are occurring and undoubtedly, our dumping of anthropogenic gases into the atmosphere has either initiated them or accelerated exponentially an otherwise slow natural process.

After arguing with a skeptic for hours on the reality of global warming, I realized that the main point of doubters is that this is all just natural; all this warming and extreme weather and sea level rise is something that is occurring due to cyclical processes either in the solar intensity of the sun or on the earth systems. However, when I asked if this person wanted to see data refuting his argument, he blatantly remarked that there was no need to, he was right, and I was wrong. Epiphany: maybe skeptics aren’t as dumb as I had thought but rather na├»ve and ignorant of the facts. Maybe they just don’t want to admit that global warming is occurring because it is not something pleasant or something that is easily dealt with. Maybe, just maybe, skeptics know deep inside that global warming is real, but if they admit it to themselves and others, then that would mean that they must do something about it. I think part of this may be the fault of extreme warnings made by climatologists of an inevitable apocalypse without possible redemption; some people think we have surpassed the “tipping point” and anything done to mitigate anthropogenic climate change at this point would be futile. This is most likely erroneous, but nonetheless irrelevant, as we should still try to fix the problem that we created regardless of a chance that it’s too late. The world is definitely changing. But we must approach the issue with a positive attitude, for it is only then that we can hope to fix this problem for all future generations and provide a habitable planet for all organisms.

-Michael Bennett, Cornell University Student

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