By Austin Andersen
Just as natural gas is anything but natural, the antiquated term global warming suggests a working definition that has now become broadened. When climate scientists began predicting that the exponential increase of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide and methane (which, by the way, makes up 75 percent of natural gas), it seemed reasonable that the heat trapping properties of these gases would warm the earth. While it certainly does this, we are now learning that the byproducts of man’s insatiable appetite for dirty fossil fuels has implications that far transcend just a hotter planet.
As scientists learn more about this very real and present danger that is the climate crisis, more knowledge is uncovered and thus, a name change is appropriate. That is why climate change is the term in which scientists and academics are now using to refer to the complex and interconnected issues facing the natural world. The main culprit is a trifecta of two oxygen atoms bound to a carbon that have not only led to record high temperatures, but super storms, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, high rates of pollution, and by virtue, sickness amongst all species; just to name a few.
Carbon dioxide is wreaking havoc on the very people that are not only creating this problem, but ignoring the means to remediate this real and present danger. One does not have to be a climatologist, nor hold a degree in an environmental field, to realize that our world is not too happy with the people that inhabit it.
Climate change means, as the name suggests, a changing climate; a more extreme climate. Climate deniers love pointing to flawed data of past cyclical periods of global warming and cooling. However, the fact of the matter is that the problems at hand are more than just data and numbers from quirky scientists in their laboratories; we are seeing the effects of our short sightedness displayed across newspapers, television and in our very own communities as we see first-hand the changing weather.
Hurricane Sandy: 285 deaths, $68 billion in damages. Typhoon Haiyan: 6,190 deaths and counting, $1.5 billion. On one Sunday in November, 67 hurricanes touched down across six states, killing six people and destroying up to 1,500 homes. The list continues with Winter Storm Hercules, which hit the country in January, dropping temperatures below zero in much of the country and killing over sixteen people. The financial and human losses mount. We pay a very serious price. If we were smart enough to advance to the point we are today, then how can we ignore the dangers of the path we are on?
Of course, no one can definitely point to the carbon saturation of our atmosphere and the subsequent changes in our climate such as the relatively recent increase in the extremity of storms. But they are highly correlated.
The science behind the interrelatedness of the many factors in regard to how our climate acts is very complex, but it shouldn’t be difficult to realize that the time for action is now.