Being Blase about Global Warming Is Likely to Be Suicidal

It’s been reported that some people have gotten blasé about global warming because they think the last couple of summers haven’t been unusually warm. So I’d tell the scoffers that’s a little like walking in to your doctor and saying let’s forget about the cancer diagnosis because I’ve been feeling pretty good the last few days.

The science underlying global warming comes from innumerable observations all over the world, under the water, on the icecaps, from every continent and climate. It is about global warming, not the specific weather in one spot.

My wife walked in to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California in San Diego. She walked out shaken by the evidence their scientists were putting together that, in their words, “should wipe out much of the uncertainty about the reality of global warming.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists, which “began as a collaboration between students and faculty members at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1969,” calls “Global warming … one of the most serious challenges facing us today. To protect the health and economic well-being of current and future generations, we must reduce our emissions of heat-trapping gases by using the technology, know-how, and practical solutions already at our disposal.”

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, is a highly respected multi-disciplinary “non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science” and publisher of “the journal Science, as well as many scientific newsletters, books and reports.” “The scientific evidence is clear,” the AAAS Board says. “Global climate change caused by human activities…is a growing threat to society.”

An international panel of some of the world’s top scientists has warned us about climate change as the result of our burning of fossil fuels and the like.

The United States Global Change Research Program coordinates and integrates federal research on changes in the global environment and their implications for society. It tells us that

Observations show that warming of the climate is unequivocal. … [G]lobal warming … is due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases …. mainly from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas), with important contributions from the clearing of forests, agricultural practices, and other activities.

Academies of Science like the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, the International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences, 32 national science academies, the science academies of the G-8, the G-8+5, and on every continent, professional organizations in the Earth Sciences like the American Geophysical Union, the European Federation of Geologists, professional organizations in Meteorology and Oceanography like the American Meteorological Society, the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences and innumerable others, have joined the warning.

So I would tell those scoffers that ignoring the consensus of experts who have spent years trying to get hold of this trend is likely to be suicidal, for ourselves, and all those we love. We ought not try to outsmart the scientists – the stakes are much too large.

This commentary was broadcast on WAMC Northeast Report, November 3, 2009.

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