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Facing the facts about climate change

(A.H.M. Zahidur Rahman/Flickr)

There are countries in the world that condemn the denial of undisputed truths. Forwarding a platform based on lies for one’s own personal gain should be reprimanded. There is a case to be made that undisputed scientific knowledge should be treated the same way. It should be against the law to deny the global threats this planet faces by the forces of climate change. Like evolution, or other key events in history that have sparked fierce debate, I feel little need to present public opinion polls that further my own thoughts on this issue. It doesn’t matter whether the population believes it is happening because science is not about one’s belief system. “The good thing about science is that it’s true weather or not you believe in it,” as Neil deGrasse Tyson once put it. There is no consensus that questions the reality of the times in which we live. Like other points in history, whether in this country or others, there have been spirited debates as to why certain things happened the way they did, the forces that lead to the occurrence of certain events, and whether or not the strong men of world history had possessed the clout that historians have given them.

Congress denying facts is nothing new. As of February 2015, 56 percent of Congressional Republicans denied that climate change was taking place. Of the 50 states, only   eight had no congresspeople who denied climate change. Such opinions can be explained by the more than $60 million the 114th Congress received in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry. Given that all but seven states in the great 48 are home to elected officials who deny the existence of climate change, over 300 million people have been affected by more than “500 climate related disaster declarations since 2011.”

Facts don’t care about your feelings, but that doesn’t mean that people care about facts. The election of Donald Trump, someone who believes that climate change is a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese, is a testament to this. The furthering of lies and misinformation perpetuated by the current administration has been continued by Scott Pruitt, the current head of the Environmental Protection Agency. In March, Pruitt spoke about his doubts with regards to the effects carbon emissions have on global warming. Pruitt said, “I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so, no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see” during an appearance on CNBC. He went on to add, “We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.” Pruitt, taking advice from Trump, has put plans in place to cut 31 percent of the EPA’s current budget, more than any other agency of government for the 2018 fiscal year.

With the current administration ignoring the facts on climate change, the United States faces an uphill battle when it comes to adhering to the Paris Accords signed by the US along with 194 other nations in 2015. The level of carbon in the atmosphere is at its highest in over 600,000 years. Since scientists began keeping records of changes in global temperature in 1880, of the 10 warmest years on record, nine of them have taken place in the 21st century.

Although there are no plans to make the denial of climate change illegal, it is worth noting that cities all over the country have implemented laws against littering and smoking in public places. Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, smoking was banned in bars and public parks in New York City. New Yorkers can also be fined for littering. It is worth asking why these laws are in place. Is it because New York City is strapped for cash and needs more revenue? Maybe Bloomberg wants the city to look better and the most effective way to go about it is to control where people put their trash and how they harm their bodies. He did it for the public good. Everyone benefits from clean streets and clean air, so a healthy environment is a public good.

During his lecture at the Mullins Center this past Thursday, Noam Chomsky raised the question several times of whether it’s better for us to be smart or stupid. The answer was far from simple. On the issue of climate change, as Chomsky continued to spell out the doomsday scenario that our world is all too close to experiencing, he outlined how the United States, much to the amazement of the rest of the world, has continued to stand alone in the face of facts. We have chosen to exploit the planet for the profit motive while having total disregard for the planet we inhabit and exploit in the process. It is incumbent upon the average citizen to take note of the 170 congresspeople who insist on having an elementary understanding of facts about this issue.

A global citizenry must unite against the destruction of the planet. If people want to live in a world where they can continue to value what’s important to them, then they are going to need land, clean air and hospitable temperatures in order to be able to do so. That can only happen when we decide to be smart instead of stupid and put fact over fiction.

Isaac Simon is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at isimon@umass.edu.

Comments
5 Responses to “Facing the facts about climate change”
  1. Sitting Bull says:

    President Obama missed a major opportunity to make some headway on this front. The science of climate change is not nearly as clear-cut as you have presented. David Hunt 1990 has presented many articles denying the scientific arguments that humans may be causing climate change. Regardless of whether anyone believes the climate is changing because of fossil fuels and deforestation, it is undeniable that the resulting air and water pollution are probably even more dangerous than the warming of the atmosphere. Therefore, the fight should be against the release of carbons and other pollutants that cause environmental disaster such as the warming of the oceans, acid rain and other issues. The truth is, mankind will not be motivated to change its behavior until it is too late, and the consequences will ultimately be dire. Whether man can stop or reverse the warming of the planet is of course speculative but it seems pretty obvious that it is happening. Ultimately, Mother Earth is going to wash away entire coast lines, extinguish animal and fish species and make more areas uninhabitable. An environmental collapse is being predicted and does not seem too far-fetched. One can only hope that, climate change or not, near zero carbon emissions from combustion engines and other byproducts can be achieved within a generation. There is a LOT more riding on the success of Tesla Motor Cars and products like it. Although this is a free market (sort of) economy, Tesla seems like it could be the big breakthrough needed to bring mass appeal to carbon-less emissions. For that reason alone, I would support government assistance or some kind of monopolistic private conglomerate to figure that one out. If you could eliminate car emissions alone in the atmosphere that would be a pretty dramatic reduction in worldwide pollution and greenhouse gas all at once. But once there is that breakthrough, the market is going to demand it of all the manufacturers who have not yet been successful in mainstreaming the technology. However, on another front, the same people who advocate for climate change are also thoughtless and wasteful consumers of myriad products. Shipping everything by Amazon, for example, is incredibly wasteful from both a raw material standpoint not to mention the pollution emitted by the shipping process. This doesn’t even consider the economic effect of the retail industry beginning its collapse at this very moment. Mankind is probably doomed to extinguishing itself. The Earth will eventually heal and start over. Let’s just hope it all happens after we are gone.

  2. David Hunt 1990 says:

    @Sitting Bull:

    That’s cash and small, non-sequential bills, right? 🙂

    CO2 is plant food; plants evolved in far, far higher CO2 levels and LIKE those levels. CO2 levels used to be TEN TIMES what they are now.

    Ultimately, this is about SOCIALISM and about POWER. The “Greens” in the environmental movement have openly stated their desire to use fears of climate change to destroy capitalism. That ALONE should be enough to put doubt among thinking people. And by continually clamoring for more and more and more control, it’s about POWER over peoples’ lives. Power to tell you how to live, how to work, how many children you can have…

    SCIENTISTS do not fake / fabricate data. Warmists have been caught doing so.

    SCIENTISTS do not silence the other side. Warmists shout “Shut up!” continuously.

    SCIENTISTS are open to alternatives. Ditto.

    SCIENTISTS create theories that can be falsified. How can “Climate change” be tested, let alone falsified?

    SCIENTISTS are humble, acknowledging they may be wrong. Warmists are hubristic bombasts declaring that everything is known to within a gnat’s ass.

  3. David Hunt 1990 says:

    SCIENTISTS are open to sharing their data and analysis methodology for independent review and verification. Warmists conceal their data, file suits to prevent access to how they conclude what they conclude, and threaten to delete their data rather than have it reviewed by others not “in the club”.

    Everything a SCIENCE is, Warmism is not.

  4. David Hunt 1990 says:

  5. David Hunt 1990 says:

    So much for the infallibility of peer review.

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/04/107-cancer-papers-retracted-due-to-peer-review-fraud/

    And “settled science” is not so settled. It is hubris defined to think that things are “nailed down” beyond question. The parallels in the link, below, to the “climate change” debate are stark and clear:

    http://www.investors.com/politics/commentary/how-settled-science-caused-a-massive-public-health-crisis/

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