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Monday, December 12, 2011

The Science on Climate Change is Unequivocal

Climate change is a topic which constantly surfaces in the media and provides much fodder for fierce debate. Today however, this debate has been taken one step further by Adelaide University’s Professor of Mining Geology, Ian Plimer with the release of his new book “How to Get Expelled from School: A Guide to Climate Change for Pupils, Parents and Punters”. The climate change skeptic has outlined 101 questions to ask teachers to challenge their collective environmental activist stance which apparently has no basis in science. This publication is being backed by ex Prime Minister John Howard.

I’m no expert in the field of climatology or environmental science, but since when were “environmental activism” and “science” mutually exclusive concepts? Also, moreover, why do some people feel they are above scientific fact and choose to disbelieve something for which there is overwhelming evidence for? It almost seems as though people are frightened that any research, reports or policies which are funded by a governmental body might be a conspiracy and designed to brainwash the masses into believing a specific agenda. The Chemtrail Conspiracy is a perfect example of this. Yet I for one find it difficult to believe that the world’s science professionals, who devote their lives and careers to research, and whom are trained to analyse and synthesise data using very specific methodology which accounts for all kinds of variables which can affect overall results, would be contriving research evidence to fit with government agendas. I’d go so far as to say I think science is the one thing we can rely on to be clear and evidence based.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) spend years researching and compiling reports based on “unequivocal evidence” suggesting that humans are impacting global climate trends more and more every year. The IPCC’s 2007 report stated that numerous experiments have been constructed (and many more since this publication) which clearly indicated that the steep trend in global warming cannot be explained by natural causes. Though there are, of course, natural trends such as el nino and la nina which occur irrespective of human activity, it is almost bewildering to suggest that human activity (namely the dramatic increase in carbon emissions) is not impacting the delicate balance of the Earth’s atmosphere and stratosphere. Really, how could it not be affecting us? The Earth’s population has increased in the last 50 years from about 3 billion, to 7 billion. Folks, this is an extra 4 billion peoples’ worth of waste, as well as use of utilities and services, and most importantly electricity. In this age of technology and more extreme weather, the use of electricity has probably quadrupled or more in the last 50 years. There is no possible way that this is not having any effect on climate trends.

In May this year Professor Kurt Lambeck of the Australian Academy of Science affirmed this notion of human contribution to global warming in science/health journal The Lamp.
‘The role of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is qualitatively well understood. It is known that increasing the atmospheric concentration of CO2 leads to higher mean global surface. It is known that CO2 has increased very substantially during the last century to the highest levels seen in the last 800,000 years,’ he said. ‘It is also beyond serious question that some CO2 from human activities remains in the atmosphere for a very long time, as is the message that unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, an upward trend in global temperature will continue.’
(No Doubt about Climate Change, The Lamp, 2011)

The global temperate has risen over 0.4 degrees Celsius since 1979, and 0.74 C in the last century. This means that more than half of this rise has been in the last 30 years. Eleven of the last 12 years “rank among the 12 warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature since 1850”. If this doesn’t concern you, this is what our future could look like if we don’t act soon, and act big:

We need to act. We need to be open about how we can collectively make changes that will reduce our emissions of Carbon. The UNFCCC climate change pact is a great step in the right direction. And in my opinion, even the newly passed carbon tax has its positives. Small steps are better than none at all. But when are the naysayers going to admit that science is proving them wrong again and again?

What do you think about climate change? Do you think we are doing enough?


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