Between volcanoes in Iceland, gassy permafrost in Greenland, earthquakes in Tennessee, and chunks of Alaska falling into the ocean, it’s sometimes hard to understand how people could continue to deny that climate change is a reality.
I know, I know- their main argument is that this is all natural- that humans are simply noticing the temperature changes the Earth has been going through for millennia, and will continue to go through, regardless of our presence on its surface.
The only problem with that avoidance argument is it fails to account for the dramatic temperature fluctuations that have taken place since the Industrial Revolution and why all 15 of the warmest years on record have come in the two decades that have passed since 1989.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s an excerpt from an op-ed Dr. Peter Gleick, co-founder and president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland, California wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle:
Those who deny that humans are causing unprecedented climate change have never, ever produced an alternative scientific argument that comes close to explaining the evidence we see around the world that the climate is changing.
Deniers don’t like the idea of climate change, they don’t believe it is possible for humans to change the climate, they don’t like the implications of climate change, they don’t like the things we might have to do to address it, or they just don’t like government or science. But they have no alternative scientific explanation that works.
If we examined the whole global warming, human-caused-climate-change issue as a game of chance, it might be easier for climate deniers to see that fighting against this scientific theory is pointless, on several levels.
The Climate Activist wagers that humans are exacerbating, if not causing climate change and are responsible for its negative side effects. As a result, he or she will make radical life changes to reduce their personal and professional contribution to the emissions which are enveloping this planet.
The risk? Even if the environmentalists are wrong, and the Earth somehow reverses the skyrocketing teperature change, melting ice caps, and acidic oceans on its own, losing this “bet” will only mean that the air above our cities is a little less polluted, families save thousands of dollars on energy, people rediscover local artisans, retailers, and farmers, and the next generation inherits a cleaner, healthier planet.
The Climate Change Denier wagers that human-caused climate change is a hoax worked up by quack scientists and liberal politicians who just want to turn their children into hippies and sell more solar panels. As a result, he or she will continue to use energy, create waste, and buy big pollution-belching cars that have televisions and refrigerators between the seats.
The risk? If the climate deniers are wrong, the Earth will continue to heat up, choking on a thick blanket of greenhouse gases that will slowly melt the permafrost releasing more toxic gases into the atmosphere. Animal species will try to migrate and then die off when they can’t find suitable habitat, food and water. Losing this bet will mean the next generation will inherit a dying planet plagued by conflict over energy and space for millions of climate refugees.
Which bet are you willing to take?
This Earth Day, it’s time to accept the fact that denying the human involvement in climate change is too much of a gamble.
Here are some ways that you can start to address and reduce your own climate-changing emissions, and begin working for a healthier future TODAY, instead of waiting for the politicians, scientists and energy companies to make up their minds about which stance will benefit them the most.
- Reduce idle or “vampire” energy use by unplugging or completely shutting off electronics while they’re not in use, setting your computer to hibernate, and switching off lights any time you’re going to be out of the room for more than 10 seconds.
- Permanently turn down your thermostat by three degrees, wear sweaters when it’s cold, and open the windows when it’s hot. You won’t melt (or freeze) and you’ll save big on your utility bill.
- Use hot water more efficiently: lower the temperature setting of your water heater, wash your clothes in cold water with a biodegradable soap, install aerators on your faucets and shower heads.
- Opt for natural lighting in your home whenever possible, and replace energy-heavy incandescent bulbs with CFLs or LEDs.
- Eliminate bottled water from your life. It takes petroleum to make the bottles, and precious energy to recycle them (assuming they don’t end up in the ocean).
- If you commute an un-bikable distance to work everyday, commit to carpooling with others at least twice a week, or telecommuting at least once a week (if allowed). Business people who normally fly more than three times a year should commit to eliminating one of these flights.
- Eat more locally grown food. Forget the overpackaged strawberries that have been airlifted from their tropical home in the dead of winter. Connect with local farmers, join a CSA, or *gasp!* plant something edible in your own yard. With all the things that are dying or becoming endangered in the world, growing something is a powerful action.
If you’re already doing a lot of these things and want to make even bigger changes, check out Natural Papa’s list of “Radical Changes to Make Every Day Earth Day.”
**More Care2 Earth Day Coverage**
ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING EARTH DAY:
- Come Celebrate Earth Day with Care2! – Nicole Nuss
- Seven Ways to Get Involved for Earth Day – Beth Buczynski
- Get Out! For a Free Book Giveaway! – Judy Molland
- Now is the Time – Angel Flinn
- Don’t Toss that Plastic Bottle – Jennifer Mueller
- White House Initiative — Dave Rochlin
HOW ARE ANIMALS AFFECTED?
- Top Ten Endangered Species – Sharon Seltzer
- A Review of Disneynature’s Oceans – Beth Buczynski
- Eating as if the Earth Matters – Heather Moore
THINGS TO PONDER
- Four Rules To Save The Planet – Nancy Roberts
- Earth…Gay? Coming Out for Sustainability – Steve Williams
- Family Planning and Earth Day – JamieAlexis Fowler
- All My Sisters: Avoiding Breast Cancer – Angel Flinn
- Humans are the Earth’s Problem AND its Solution – Beth Buczynski
- Earth Day at 40: The Politics Erupt — Gillian Caldwell
THOSE MAKING A DIFFERENCE
- 2010 Goldman Environmental Awards – Nancy Roberts
- Climate Champion Dr. James Hansen – Nicole Nuss
- Boyd Cohen’s Quest to Offset Carbon – Suzi Parrasch
- 350.org’s Bill McKibben — Nicole Nuss
- Reverb’s Adam Gardner — Nicole Nuss
Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons - NDstrupler