The Earth’s climate is changing. Climate change, not global warming. With the recent cold weather we’ve had, I’ve seen a lot of social media posts stating something to the effect that, “global warming isn’t an issue, just look how cold it’s been.” As if a few weeks of cold, snowy weather in North Dakota and Minnesota is proof that climate change isn’t occurring. That viewpoint is myopic and doesn’t look at the bigger picture.
People in other parts of the world, specifically the southern hemisphere where it is currently summer, are experiencing record-breaking heat.
This past January was Australia’s hottest month ever recorded. During those 31 days they endured a 6-day stretch of heat in which each day's high temperature fell into the top 10 hottest days recorded for Australia. That was preceded by their hottest ever December.
Not to overlook the bigger picture, the five warmest years recorded on Earth were the previous five years: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
My point being that while we may be experiencing a few weeks of extreme cold, other parts of the world are enduring months of sustained record-breaking heat. This, all while the planet in general is getting warmer.
I could go on about the compelling, some would say overwhelming, scientific evidence that points to humans as a contributing factor to climate change, but that information is easily accessible to anyone with a smartphone.
What gets me is many people choose not to believe experts. Either that or they believe them but don’t like what they hear so they brush the evidence aside in order to continue living in a worldview most comfortable to them, despite that in doing so they may be contributing to the catastrophic consequences by being so willfully blind.
It’s analogous to taking your car to a mechanic because the engine is making a funny noise. The mechanic, being an expert in their field, takes a look at the engine and tells you it’s been 30,000 miles since you last changed oil and you are going to need $3,000 in repairs because you neglected the engine for so long. I am not going to like that assessment, but that doesn’t make the mechanic’s analysis any less factual.
Is it possible humans are contributing to raising the Earth’s temperature a few degrees in a relatively short period of time? Of course it’s possible. We put a man on the moon for crying out loud. The question isn’t whether climate change is happening or not. It is happening regardless of the fact that you may not believe humans have any responsibility for contributing to it.
The real question is whether you believe humans have the capability to curb or even reverse the potentially devastating effects of climate change. When it comes to our neglected car we can either choose to pay for the repairs or we can purchase a new vehicle. The latter option is not available when it comes to Earth.
This column was submitted for consideration in The Forum's search for "the next great columnist."