No matter which side of the global warming argument you stand on, there is one thing that you should carefully consider: Will it matter if you are wrong?
There is no doubt that our climate is changing, that the planet is getting warmer. You don’t have to be a scientist to figure that out. All you have to be is breathing.
This year will go down as the warmest ever recorded. We had high temperatures this summer that most of us have never experienced in our lifetimes, upwards of 115 degrees in this area. And just this week, we’ve seen highs in the mid-70s. At last Saturday’s Christmas parades in St. James and Steelville people were wearing shorts and flip-flops, which doesn’t do a lot to get you in the Christmas spirit.
My fall garden is still going strong. I’ve got more lettuce than I can possibly eat and I’ll be harvesting broccoli by this time next week (and it’s great-looking broccoli, by the way). And, believe it or not, I have a friend who owns a lovely place on the upper Meramec River who actually went swimming in the river on Monday afternoon! You read that right; she went swimming. On purpose. And enjoyed it!
The question that remains for most people is not whether global warming is happening, but are we causing it? If you listen to the scientists, the answer is yes. About 99 percent of climate scientists have now concluded that human activity—specifically our continued burning of fossil fuels—is not only contributing to global warming, but is also the primary factor for it.
Yes, there are some of climate change skeptics out there. What’s interesting about that fact, however, is that you will be hard pressed to find any of them who are actual scientists. For instance, before becoming one of the leading climate science deniers in the country, Steve Milloy, who runs a website called JunkScience.com, worked as a tobacco industry advocate. Oil billionaires Charles and David Koch provide much of his funding.
What you may not know about the climate science debate is that many well-known climate researchers are increasingly becoming the targets of death threats, hate mail, nuisance lawsuits and political attacks. In June, Popular Science published an article entitled “The Battle Over Climate Science” that should serve as a real eye opener to anyone who is still unsure about climate change. You can find it on the Internet with a quick Google search.
While the climate skeptics refute the science of climate change, they have never been able to explain one simple thing: What do climate scientists have to gain by lying to us about global warming? We all know what the Koch brothers and the coal industry have to gain by denying climate science, but what does the other side have to gain?
If the climate change scientists are all wrong, then what is going to happen? Nothing. Our children and grandchildren won’t have a thing to worry about. All the digging and drilling and burning of fossil fuels won’t hurt a thing.
But, what if the climate change deniers are wrong? What will happen then? Global air and sea temperatures will continue to increase. The oceans will continue to rise, droughts will worsen, the intensity of storms will increase, glaciers will continue to disappear and the resulting problems could lead to famine, disease and war.
Which of those scenarios would you rather be wrong about?
Denying climate change means sitting back and doing nothing, hoping that none of the scientists’ projections come true. Accepting our role in climate change, however, means we can take steps to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by switching to clean, renewable energy sources.
At the least, making such a change will dramatically reduce the levels of our air and water pollution. At best, it may help ward off a global catastrophe.
If we’re going to be wrong about climate change, let’s err on the side that cleans up our planet, the side that helps us develop clean, renewable energy, the side that eliminates our need for foreign energy sources, the side that harnesses endless amounts of energy from the wind and the sun. And if we’re wrong, it won’t matter one little bit!