Be Glad There’s No Climate Change
By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson
The last time we saw the sun around here was on the morning of Friday, May 13. Rain started in the afternoon. Since then, we’ve had a succession of rain showers and deluges, with daytime skies ranging from silver to pewter to lead (the metal, I mean), but no sun. There’s flooding here in the low-lying areas, but nothing to compare with what folks were, are, and will be suffering along the Mississippi, so we’re counting ourselves lucky on that score.
The good news here is that we don’t have to water the garden. The bad is that seeds that hadn’t sprouted before the rains came aren’t sprouting now and have probably rotted, poor things, where we put them in the soil with the best of intentions and, in my case, words of hope and encouragement.
The weather services all agree we’re not likely to see the sun before Sunday, if then. Sigh.
Let’s all give thanks that there’s no climate change. Imagine how much worse it would be if average temperatures were climbing, the oceans warming, the polar ice cap melting, and the atmosphere, as a result, was overloaded with moisture, leading to skies the color of metal, thoughts of building an ark, and frizzy hair.
Actually, some polls now show that a majority of Americans believe that Earth’s climate is changing, but when you dig deeper you find there’s scant reason for rejoicing among those who are trying to do something about it. Asked what is causing climate change, the number of those who cite natural weather cycles – as opposed to human activity – has grown greatly over the last few years. Greenhouse gases and particle-belching tailpipes and smokestacks have nothing to do with it, these people believe.
So the political pressure to do nothing legislatively has grown accordingly. Just think: when was the last time you heard about a bill being debated in Congress meant to decrease greenhouse gas emissions in the United States? 2010, that’s when. And the proposed legislation went down in flames. Five months into the 112th Congress, the only environmental bills to reach the floor have been in the House of Representatives, and they’re about neutering the Environmental Protection Agency.
A study in The Sociological Quarterly published in April finds that
[L]iberals and Democrats are more likely to report beliefs consistent with the scientific consensus and express personal concern about global warming than are conservatives and Republicans. Further, the effects of educational attainment and self-reported understanding on global warming beliefs and concern are positive for liberals and Democrats, but are weaker or negative for conservatives and Republicans.
In other words, the more education liberals and Democrats have, and the more they think they understand the facts and issues relating to global warming, the more they accept what the scientific community is saying about it, and the more they worry. On the other hand, the more educated and informed Republicans and conservatives are, the more they doubt or outright reject what climate scientists are telling us.
People more clever than I am may know what to make of this – for example, why does education and information make people who list to starboard (lean right, in landlubber’s terms) more stupid, when the subject is their own survival and that of their descendants? I’d love to hear even a half-baked theory.
While we wait, you’ll find it worth the 20 or so minutes it will take to read the 22-page Summary for Policy Makers of the most recent report from the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Issued in February 2007, it details the state of Earth’s climate. The next report will be issued in 2113, and another six years after that.
The big change from IPCC’s last report, in 2001, is the level of confidence on the relationship between climate change and human activity. That report set at 67% to 90% the likelihood that human-made greenhouse gases were responsible for Earth’s temperature increase. The new report says it is greater than 90% likely. This is about as definitive a statement of cause and effect as you’ll ever get from a scientist.
On second thought, if you’re a right-wing conservative, don’t click on that link. It will only make you stupider.
An excellent collection of pages relating to climate change is here. Look in the right-hand column for the heading “Hot Topics in Climate Change.”