An Inconvenient Lie
Posted on Feb 29 2012 at 11:12:20 PM in Earth & Geography
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC - a body of 2,500 or so leading scientists in 130 countries) states that humans have caused the rise in our Earth’s temperature. The Earth’s climate change is directly related to the exponential rise of our industrialization, deforestation, and greenhouse gas contributions. In essence, humans are pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere faster than the Earth’s plants and oceans can absorb it. According to the IPCC, even if we ceased all gas emissions today, it would still take a very long time for our planet to catch up with consuming the waste. The IPCC’s ultimate message: There is no better time than right now for humanity to make a change.
The last two decades were the hottest in 400 years. Scientists say that these last two decades could have been the hottest in several millennia. Evidence of this is visible in mountain snows and other glaciers such as the Arctic ice sheets, which are disappearing at alarming rates. Scientists estimate that the Artic will be free of all ice within the next 15 to 30 years.
The rise in temperature is affecting more than the glaciers. Many Coral Reefs around the world are dying off with some areas reporting a 70% loss. Although the reefs are delicate, according to the Coral Reef Alliance they have survived in our oceans for more than 5,000 years. This means that the delicate coral reefs have survived in harmony with the Earth and its oceans for a long time. Coral Reefs serve as indicators of the ecosystem’s health and right now, they are indicating that this is a sick planet.
Scientists and experts are warning that if we do not act very soon we will see horrifying devastation and a shrinking human population. They say that our warming planet will lead to mass food and water shortages. Sea levels will rise to devastating proportions. Hurricanes will become stronger. Droughts and heat waves will cause more wildfires and other disasters, which will only add to the greenhouse gas problem. At some point, the warming will become uncontrollable as the rising temperatures release more greenhouse gases that are locked in the permafrost and seabed. In the end, millions of species will face extinction.
The warnings of global warming have been around for a while and its dangers are becoming more evident. Regardless of the surmounting evidence, some people ignore these warnings while many others believe that global warming is not happening.
Although there have always been opponents of global warming, I still find myself in disbelief of two things. One, I am in awe that people still refuse to accept global warming as an issue when the proof is clearly visible—I somehow disbelieve that they are blind. Two, the non-believers have NO evidence that global warming is NOT happening—I am in disbelief that they are that naïve.
This article was initiated by my recent observations of people with right-wing political views and my experiences with them in light of recent weather activity. I have always been aware that many people who stand on the right of the political scale make up the majority of those who do not accept global warming as a real threat. Nevertheless, I haven’t given this a whole lot of thought until recently.
I was out for a run on a sunny and warm February day last week in Ohio. I noticed children playing in their shorts and t-shirts. People were out with their cameras, dogs, and baby strollers. Everyone was enjoying the weather including me, but it seemed that I was on a different level of awareness than the others. I overheard other joggers (passing me as usual) talking about how great the weather was and how they wish that every winter was like this. I couldn’t help but to feel a little agitated by their comments. They didn’t seem fazed by the ever-increasing winter temperatures of past years—nor did it seem that they were ready to make the connection of this unusually warm February day with Global Warming.
Later, the same day, I was sitting in a class when one of my classmates came into the classroom saying, “I love this weather! Isn’t it great?” The class unanimously agreed. I replied, “It’s nice, but really sad.” The class acted as though they didn’t hear me. Then the same kid made another remark about how he wished every winter was warm. I said, “You’ll get your wish. It’ll get warmer and warmer—global warming my man, global warming.” No one acknowledged my statement, not even the kid who was making the weather remarks—nevertheless, he heard me. I know he heard me, because his only response was an oddly swift change in the subject to how he thought Barrack Obama was an idiot. He immediately stereotyped me and tried to upset me with a right field comment (no pun intended).
When I returned home from class, I was checking my mail when I heard a vehicle pull up to a stop sign behind me with its radio blaring. When I turned my head to look at the noise behind me, I saw a man driving a Hummer with the windows rolled down. I felt disgusted as I watched him nod his head back and forth to the music—enjoying the warm February day in a vehicle that is contributing to global warming. As I watched him drive down the road, I noticed a ‘Bush/Cheney’ bumper sticker on his rear window. “Typical”, I thought, “Typical.”
I went back into my home and Googled “Why don’t people believe in global warming?” What I found was a mishmash of the argument, “Is global warming a hoax or not?” After reading most of the crap on the first two pages in the search results, I found a study by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. According to their findings, 22% of Democrats and 47% of Republicans do not believe that global warming is happening.
After reviewing the school’s data, I returned to the garbage sites and forums to try to understand why these particular segments do not believe the scientific findings in global warming. I then stepped back in my thoughts and contemplated the global warming argument itself while analyzing those who were arguing. The picture became clear as people fell into their stereotype.
Although I am not surprised, I still marvel at how people divide easily and then fit perfectly into one side of the spectrum or the other. When I look to the left or the right of the political scale, ordinary citizens seem to stick together and extremely oppose the opposite side of the scale without question. Even though, to stick with your fellows might be a natural human trait, it can cause ignorance en masse and “mass ignorance” leads to problems.
The most bothersome thing about a group’s identity is that the individuals within that group will accept anything that appears to be the consensus of the organization. Unfortunately, they accept these doctrines, beliefs, and ideas without investigating the matters themselves. Concisely, people choose to be naïve and overly trusting.
The largest portion of our ignorance is owed to the weakness of the ego, which is leveraged by leaders. When we trust in someone who we identify with and they are a prime source of our identity and association, we will accept almost anything they say as true. Hence, the Republican Party took the stand that global warming was a hoax and as a result, many Republican voters believe it is a hoax. This also explains why most nonbelievers of global warming stumble when you ask them why they don’t believe that it is real. They don’t know, because they never investigated the issue.
Most voters, Republican and Democrat, never look behind the scenes of a debate. Most people hear the key selling points of an issue, which has been designed to ‘sell’ the subject, and then they accept whatever position their Party takes. The evil behind this is that people are being “sold” an idea. It’s like a teenager buying the twenty-inch rims and the fresh paint job without checking the “Car Fax.”
The majority of people that I talk to who scoff at global warming usually lack the ability to validate, with intelligent and verifiable reasons, why their views are correct. While they have nothing substantial to put on the table, it becomes more embarrassing as they continue to defend their position with little or no ground to plant their feet. The real brain twister for me is that when I cross their path some time later, nothing has changed—they still stand proudly on their Jell-O platform without any new knowledge that supports their stand.
What I like most about writing is that I have the ability to confront or support issues without being interrupted with someone’s irrelevant blabber. So, right now let us stick with this one topic: “Is global warming happening and should we be worried?” To the 47% of Republican supporters and the 22% of Democrat supporters who are still in denial … you are wrong. I know this, because I have done the research, checked out the facts, and looked behind our leaders’ mode of operation on the issue. Have you?
~ John Debar ~
1) There are many things that can contribute to the earth warming. Humans happen to be one of those things.
2) Hoax or no hoax, I would rather live in a clean world.
3) Oil, gas, and coal companies have the ability and financial resources to invest in clean energy. Why don’t they?
4) If you have money in oil, coal, or gas it might be a smart idea to move your investments into clean energy companies.
5) Nuclear is not a smart option—we have witnessed two reasons why in our history. Moreover, nuclear energy is outdated in comparison to the technology available today.
6) There are two messages in my article. The one that is NOT about global warming is the most important message.