Conservatives have taken to criticizing any attempt made by scientists to show that climate change occurred in the past and that today it is created by humans. They do not want to discuss climate change because it might interfere with their long cherished notions about how the world works.
For them to acknowledge climate change, they would have to surrender short-term profits to secure long-term gains, and this they do not want. Conservatives want to exploit the worlds resources for as long as they can to make a profit, to enrich themselves. They are unwilling to acknowledge the serious consequences of their actions.
Conservatives want to introduce a scientific nihilism to political and social discourse in this country, and around the world. The undue influence of evangelicals and other religious cults introduce an apocalyptic vision of life on Earth, that they believe will vanish in a fiery purge from above. They would love to have us all believe that destroying our home is part of God’s plan and that they are the instruments of that destruction.
Conservatives take an increasingly anti-science stance on an increasing number of issues, from Evolutionary Theory, to Continental Drift Theory, Big Bang Theory, and Embryology. They are unwilling to consider the evidence in favor of those theories, and have no viable alternative to the evidence themselves. They offer only pseudo-religious bromides emanating from biblical texts as an alternative.
Conservatives seem to believe that you have a choice as to which facts you accept, and which not. We do not have that choice. When we are presented with facts, our only real choice is to find a way to explain those facts. Scientists look at facts and fit them into larger principles, rules, and laws which become Theories explaining physical phenomena.
The framework that we create based on the facts becomes stronger and more sturdy the more we know and understand about our universe. We don’t get to decide which of those facts we agree with. Science is not a democratic system in which we get to vote on which facts are acceptable. It is a system in which scientists agree on what the facts are, and ultimately build the framework explaining those facts. Science is always provisional, we are always updating what we know and tinkering with the edges of knowledge. We may never know everything, but we do understand a lot about our universe.
So it is with climate change. Scientists from a multitude of disciplines experiment, examine data, and take measurements, and when the preponderance of data lead them to certain conclusions, they have no choice but to agree with those conclusions. The data the scientists are producing and uncovering overwhelmingly supports the contention that the Earth’s climate is changing, that it is warming, and that the most plausible explanation is that humans are causing it.
Conservatives believe that they can vote climate change away, that if they deny it, or ignore it, it will not happen. It is a failure of imagination of gargantuan proportions, and it will have an increasingly serious effect on our lives. Scientists are expecting many things to result from human induced climate change.
Parts of the globe will become much drier and arid, like the South-Western United States. More droughts will lead to increased fire activity, crop failure, and hotter conditions. Oceanic storms, like hurricanes are likely to intensify, creating havoc on land, especially along the Atlantic coast of America. Hurricanes are now beginning to hit The Canary Islands, and even parts of lower Europe. Spain, Italy and France are likely to experience more droughts, and less rainfall.
If the Gulf Stream conveyor, which takes warm water from the Gulf of Mexico to Europe, switches off, Europe could well become colder and less hospitable. Glaciers in mountainous regions like the Himalayas could well vanish. The seasonal melting of ice and snow in these mountains provides water for hundreds of millions of people.
Along the East coast of the United States and in other areas close to the tropics, tropical diseases like Malaria, Lyme Disease and West Nile could become more prevalent, along with other, more unpleasant diseases.
Oceanic water will probably rise, driven by the melting of the polar ice caps, causing flooding in low-lying areas, and vastly increased costs to nations around the globe.
Conservatives love to say that attacking climate change will cost jobs and enormous amounts of money. The fact of the matter is that damage caused by climate change itself will vastly exceed the cost of tackling climate change now.
The danger facing us by our own incompetence and ineptitude about climate change is overwhelming. Hundred of millions of people face the prospect of violent death, of starvation, death by disease and drowning, especially along low-lying areas around the globe. The costs of trying to reverse the enormous damage that we have done to our home, the only home we have, are miniscule in comparison to the costs of repairing destroyed homes, infrastructure, and rebuilding people’s lives.
The denialism exhibited by conservatives is ludicrous in the face of all the evidence. It is like watching a train thundering down a track towards you and knowing that all you need to do is step off the tracks and your life is saved. Conservatives cannot see that truth. They have this errant belief that God will step in and whisk them away. In the meantime, real people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake.
Climate change may not have caused Hurricane Sandy – we may never know, but we do know that the signs of climate change are ominous, that warming is accelerating, that at some point there will come a tipping point and we will vanish into the maelstrom of history. We do have it within our power to slow the rush to destruction, and it is not praying to some supposedly omnipotent deity that will help things change, it is when people use their strength of character to repair the damage we have done to our home.
There is still time, but our time is short. The future of our species depends on how we act.
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