By Brian Harris, Staff Writer
Facts are a dangerous thing. People seem to care more about belief and opinion than fact in all facets of life, from personal to private.
But, in the case of climate change, it’s not a matter of belief or opinion, it’s more of a matter of life or death.
Let’s slow down for a second. Over the span of one month, we’ve had two massive hurricanes tear their way through the United States.
Now, I’m not about to tell you that CO2 emissions cause hurricanes, because they don’t. But climate change did contribute more to these disasters than you might have realized.
BBC’s Matt McGrath in his fantastic article “Hurricanes: A perfect storm of chance and climate change?” puts it best:
“What has happened this year is that a number of natural variable factors have come together and helped boost the number and power of these cyclones. In the background, climate change has loaded the dice.”
What he’s referring to there is fairly simple. No, these storms are not caused by global warming, but the warming may have had a striking effect.
The article theorizes that the warming temperature would naturally lead to more moisture in the air, which would in turn lend itself to stronger rainfall during these superstorms or hurricanes.
The article goes on to interview Professor Richard Allan, who teaches meteorology at the University of Reading, on the subject: “[T]he factors that control the genesis and the intensification of these hurricanes . . . point to the fact that they will undoubtedly be slightly more severe due to the extra heat content in the ocean due to the long-term warming of the climate.”
On the topic of scientists discussing this, there’s always a bit of debate when it comes to how many people support the idea of climate change, so let’s run down a couple of surveys on the subject.
A 2014 study from the American Chemical Society indicated that of 1,868 scientists polled, those with over ten climate-related peer-reviewed publications agreed that anthropogenic greenhouse gases, or GHGs, being the dominant driver of recent global warming.
What that means in plain English is that the more a researcher knows about the subject, the more likely they are to agree that climate change is not only happening, but is caused by greenhouse gases.
Or how about the 2013 survey conducted by Dr. James Powell? Dr. Powell, formerly of the National Science Board, combed the “Web of Science” and found that of the 13,950 peer reviewed scientific articles he searched, only a measly 24 rejected climate changes.
All of this and we haven’t even discussed the infamous “John Cook et al.”, who are a group of researchers who wrote a famous article about scientists’ beliefs surrounding climate change.
This entered the public consciousness when then-president Barack Obama tweeted: “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous” in 2013.
The accuracy of that study has been so commonly debated that I’ll leave its details at that.
All of this leads me to one final question: Why would someone deny climate change in the face of everything?
These are all experts in their field, reviewing thousands of peer reviewed studies, analyzing tomes of climate data, and all a denier can muster is a flat no?
I’ve long wondered how one could look at a fact and simply deny it.
I suppose the lack of a visual hurts its cause, but then again, we believe in gravity even when we can’t see it.
We can see the effects of it though, and that’s what truly matters.
Not in the future, or eventually, but in the here and now.
The word “believe” is a funny word here. You don’t believe in evolution. You don’t believe the earth is round. You don’t believe that there are 24 hours in a day, and 7 days in a week.
You don’t believe in biology, or chemistry, or physics. You don’t believe facts, it’s a bigger issue than that.
They exist, and it’s up to you to know that.