The issue of ‘global warming’ aka climate change has again sparked off fierce debate on a number of websites. This is in light of the IPCC’s latest report which shows worse-than-previous projections for temperatures, sea level rises and species destruction. They even go as far as releasing a warming map that shows most major centres will be uninhabitably hot within 50 years.
The issue seems to be very emotive with two clear ‘camps’ having emerged among those who agree that the climate is in fact changing at all: those who think that humans are causing the problem and those who believe it is entirely natural, the so-called ‘climate change deniers’.
I fall into the first camp: I am firmly of the opinion that it is due to Man’s activities that we are altering the balances that exist, for the worst. Sure, I concur that there are also long-term natural meta-cycles of warming and cooling but I think that those changes would take place with less ‘abruptness’ and with a longer-term cyclicity.
I also think that many people who deny that it is due to human pollution, gas emissions, cutting down forests, overgrazing, changing micro-climates, poisoning water tables, etc have a vested interest in denying the realities. Or is there something else that makes otherwise intelligent people deny what is right before their eyes? Cognitive dissonance? A healthy suspicion of Science (mainly because so much fails or is faked)? Simple greed and ecological insensitivity– they think drilling for oil is more important than preserving a natural eco-system? I have even had an argument with a guy who used the fact that there have been more record cold temperatures in his area in the last 3 years to prove that it is not ‘global warming’ at all but rather ‘global cooling’!
That is one reason why I have abandoned the term ‘global warming’ and now just stick with ‘Man-made climate change’. And this was specified at least 10 years ago when meteorologists warned us that the weather patterns that had subsisted since record-keeping started, are no longer operant and their confidence level for predicting the weather had dropped radically. The warning then was simply that weather would become more extreme. Hot areas would become colder, cold areas more hot, rainy areas would get drought and dry areas a lot more rain. There was no specific projection on the overall rise or fall of temperature. Or sea level at that stage. They simply said that the patterns that they used to rely on, no longer held.
And this is where I get back to my central issue: is it human induced or is it totally natural?
Being a computer scientist by profession, I understand fully that the weather is a so-called ‘chaotic system’. The initial conditions play a huge role in determining the behaviour of the system, as do ‘attractors’ which are mathematical concepts describing what the system ‘tends to’ when they are held constant. Say, average heat in the system, average excess CO2, average methane level, etc (in the case of weather modelled mathematically).
What we are doing, as a species, is moving attractors around in the chaotic system that is our planetary eco-cycle.
We are increasing the amount of heat that is produced. We are increasing the amount of oxides in the atmosphere. We are depleting the ability of the system to process these oxides. We are producing more methane. We are reducing species diversity. How can these changes NOT affect the overall system (in this case our weather and climate)? Simple answer: they cannot – they are part of the system and therefor any change to them will affect the system.
So, from a system modelling approach (and I admit completely how inadequate our current systems have to be), there is simply NO WAY that man producing and using over a billion vehicles cannot be moving the attractors in our climate equations!
And then, when we allow that thought to cross our minds, we add to it the negative impact we are having on the planet’s ability to absorb our oxides (cutting down the Amazon?) it becomes 100% certain that our climate model (no matter how weak and unsophisticated) is changing based on our own activities.
One can zoom in onto a number of smaller ecosystems that have systematically been destroyed by humans – wetlands, Big-5 grazing areas, even frogs and chameleons in your backyard. Everywhere we go we alter the ecology.
So I throw out a challenge to any of the climate-change deniers: show me any pragmatic evidence demonstrating that even if Man were NOT here, the same thing would be happening to our Planet?
If you can find anything, I’ll work it into my model but I am sure the overall answer will remain the same: cease and desist destruction of Nature or face the consequences.
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