Being a “Believer” Depends on Where You Put Your Trust

by Duane Nichols on May 3, 2016

Global Warming and “Belief”

Commentary by S. Tom Bond, Resident Farmer, May 2, 2016
A majority of Americans say global warming is occurring. Pew Research, using the words “solid evidence that the earth is warming,” get 67 percent, and Gallop gets 54 percent saying “solid evidence that the earth is warming.”  A CBS poll found only 11 percent saying global warming did not exist.  Other advanced countries are far ahead of United States citizens in accepting global warming.

If you look up those references, however, you will find the situation considerably more dicey.  In addition to the denial industry mounted by the likes of Exxon and Koch brothers,  sloppy thinking is easily applied to observations, and there are many people paid to cultivate it.
Let’s begin with authority.  Science is unequivocally supporting the idea that earth temperature is rising.  It explains why: the accumulation of gases that absorb radiation energy from the sun and turn it into increased vibration of molecules of air.  This is the very definition of additional heat energy.  Anyone who has had a decent 7th and 8th grade science class knows that heat is the vibration of molecules.  Unfortunately, many haven’t, and many more have forgotten the connection.
Secondly, the temperatures given for global warming seem ridiculously small.  Limiting the change to 3 F degrees seem small compared to the daily change in temperature in the Temperate Zone, where we live.  And more so when the range of temperatures on earth is considered.  A better comparison would be with the change of body temperature, where three degrees is significant.
Probably the worst nonsense is the idea that scientists are engaged in a conspiracy.  Many people, no most, have the idea that science speaks with a single voice.  They think there is a hierarchy, when in fact, science is a great debating society.  As anyone trained for a higher degree knows, there are many out there looking at your work and trying to find errors in it.  Consensus is arrived at by finding and eliminating errors.  True, some opinions count more than others.  Experience in the area of research, personal contacts, insight, all count.  But Science is a great debating society, not amenable to conspiracies.
Even if you are not willing to accept the authority of 97 percent of scientists, but are willing to acquaint yourself with common sense level evidence, there is a lot of it. Pictures of retreating glaciers,  river banks and shorelines thawing and slumping in the arctic, change in habits of arctic animals mean something is going on.  Disappearance of the arctic ice pack over time is clear evidence. 
In the temperate zone there are pictures of flooding due to sea rise when storms drive sea water inland.  Glaciers are retreating and winter ice pack in mountains that provide water in many areas all summer is disappearing.  These are well documented by pictures.  Forests in the western United States and north in the boreal zone are experiencing invasion of insect species adapted to the increased temperatures and are drying out so forest fires are more common and far more severe, particularly at higher altitudes. 
All these are abundantly pictured on the net.  All of them point in one direction, warmer temperatures.  The global warming denier could use the famous line by Chico Marx, in Duck Soup (1933), “Who you going to believe, me or you own lyin’ eyes?”
If you don’t like pictures, there are figures.  Figures for sea rise, figures for cubic miles of glaciers melted, figures for disappearance of the arctic sea ice.
Southern California, India, Pakistan, and elsewhere are calculating the years until the old sources of water disappear.  The ocean is rising, and water pumped out of aquifers along the coast are experiencing intrusion of salt water, not suitable for human use or for irrigation of crops.  In some  parts of Florida this reaches as much as six miles inland.  Still, the governor, Rick Scott, won’t allow mention of it in state papers or planning for it. A few small ocean island nations are at risk of disappearing in a storm. 
Measures of spring, such as when plants begin to leaf out, along with drying out and warming of the soil comes earlier in the spring and leaves later in the fall.  Species after species show longer growing seasons.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily mean greater yields.  Other changes such as amount and timing of rain, and higher temperatures in mid-season may result in less food, fiber and timber for human use.
We need to prepare, but the powerful fuel industry lobby is against any change, along with much of the business community that is closely allied to it.  Will human society have to collapse before anything substantial is done?  We shall surely see if there is no catastrophic war in the next few decades.  If there is, we will end that way instead.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: