In an response to a climate change skeptic I often go overboard in my Facebook responses, sometimes those comments warrant a long form response. Maybe i’m wasting my time in these responses however I enjoy being thorough and cautiously framing my argument for a simple reason. Climate is complex while being the single defining long term crisis facing our species. It requires the analyzation and understanding of evidence that is nearly unprecedented in complexity while also being intangible.
Climate change is a nearly invisible threat, the evidence that demonstrates its future risks is complex to understand and cross-verify. Perhaps try to contrast this complexity with our scientific understandings of electromagnetism or even gravity, those are concepts that we can grasps because they are easily testable with our base senses. With studying climate there is a layer of abstraction between our senses and the data, I can’t run an experiment and trust my eyes and ears with recording the results. With that being said, I understand climate skepticism well, it requires a person to study the evidence and use the logical part of our brain to verify truth.
Often times people speak of the climate system as if it’s a mystical entity, something about ‘Mother Nature’ having a way to handle things no matter what we puny little humans do. It is true we are just a tiny speck in the total history of the universe, there’s been mega-annums of natural climate cycles. There’s been periods of warming and cooling for a variety of reasons that we’ve observed through paleoclimatology. Earth’s climate is just another mechanism of physics that can be observed, understood, and modeled.
We can observe, understand and model the human body as a function of physics as well. Our Human ecosystem is a product of the physics of biology. Don’t eat enough food relative to your energy output, things happen and you get smaller. Eat too much food relative to your energy output, things happen and you get larger. The Earth like our body, must respect the laws of physics as every other entity in existence.
These same principles apply to studying Climate. We can study the physics that drives the Earth’s ecosystem. Imagine that the Earth atmosphere is a bathtub and our carbon emission is the facut, if we inject more carbon into the atmosphere then the Earth naturally can absorb then we must either increase the size of the drain or decrease the amount we emit. We understand what CO2 does to an atmosphere, it acts as a greenhouse gas which for all intents and purposes is useful and necessary to sustain life.
Greenhouse gases are the difference between living on the Earth and living on the Moon, it changes the way heat is trapped in the atmosphere and acts as a regulatory blanket. If you are in the sunlight on the Moon the temperature on the surface is 253 degrees F however if you are on the night side its -243 degrees F. This is the mechanism of physics that allows us to stave off freezing every single night when the sun sets. We’ve observed via the climate observatory in Hawaii that the concentration of CO2 has been steadily increasing.
As the concentration of gases that traps heat in the atmosphere increases, so does the total energy storage potential of the atmosphere. At the end of the day, the climate is a natural system that follows the laws of physics. We cannot change the laws of physics, we can affect how we interact with it by reversing climate change.
The evidence shows we are emitting more carbon than the Earth’s ecosystem can absorb, I will not wait another three decades like our parents generation did without heeding the warnings of every single scientific organization on the planet.