I caught an article yesterday that finds a correlation between Americans’ opinions on climate change and the weather that they experience. It seems that we express more concern in years that are much warmer or much colder than normal according to a study in the journal Climate Change, as reported by US News Opinions on Climate Change Rise and Fall with Temperatures.
I’ve previously noted how investment choices could be affected by climate change in an post titled Agriculture and Energy in a Global Warming Forecast
What’s interesting is that most people ignore fundamental scientific facts and choose to let someone else do the interpretation of scientific facts for them. Unless if what we were taught about carbon dioxide in high school and college chemistry was wrong, then I don’t understand what all of the confusion is about.
There are only three questions applicable to whether global warming is a factor. (1) Is carbon dioxide a greenhouse gas? (2) Is the level of CO2 in the atmosphere increasing significantly? (3) Did mankind contribute to the increase?
Question #1: Answer is a firm yes as evidenced by observations of atmospheric CO2 in other planets, and our own. The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century. They didn’t lie to us in high school and college chemistry.
According to NOAA: “The greenhouse effect is unquestionably real and helps to regulate the temperature of our planet. It is essential for life on Earth and is one of Earth’s natural processes. … Without a natural greenhouse effect, the temperature of the Earth would be about zero degrees F (-18°C) instead of its present 57°F (14°C).”
Question #2: Any change can also be measured scientifically and the increase in the last 200 years exceeds levels observed over the last 650,000 years, according to NASA – http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/. For the last 650,000 years the atmospheric CO2 level has never been measured over 300 parts per million … so a yes:
Question #3, I’ll let the reader consider the sources of carbon on Earth (It’s not the sun). We can argue that volcanic activity affects climate, and that is correct. The Berkely Earth Project has created a chart that correlates volcanic activity with surface temperature levels over a 250+ year period.
And now the decadal chart with a simple fit based on CO2 levels and volcanic activity in red:
We can all have our opinions on this, but opinions do not form the basis for sustainable life practices. We are fully aware that correlation is not causal, so by no means do we expect this post to remove all questions and doubt. Still our duty as citizens is to stay informed and do our best to reduce our impact.