Oct 282009
Authors: M. Alex Stephens

/Last Saturday was the International Day of Climate Action, a day designated by the group 350.org to raise awareness about what some say is the biggest hoax to have ever perpetrated our culture, global warming./I can understand where these non-believers of climate change (or global warming, or global obliteration, call it what you will) are initially coming from.

Like any sensible person they are hesitant to believe what scientists are preaching — that’s good. However, they inexplicably give more credence to the small minority of dissenting voices than the vast majority of the consenting. Why?

Most self-proclaimed free-thinking skeptics are trapped in circles of erroneous information that masquerades as fact. They rely on the flimsy anecdotes and hollow cries of made up science that baseless media outlets promulgate as the truth.

For the umpteenth time, the science behind global warming is solid and extremely non-partisan. The sensitivity of Earth’s climate to the concentration of gases in its atmosphere is a realization older than a century but has roots dating back 250 years.

Horace Benedict de Saussure’s experiments during the 1760s demonstrated the first greenhouse heat experiment. In 1824 Saussure’s experiments were elaborated on by Joseph Fourier who argued that the temperature of the Earth could be augmented. In 1861 John Tyndell demonstrated in a lab that complex atmospheric molecules could absorb thermal radiation and in 1896 Svante Arrhenius predicted that changes in the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide, among other gases, could trigger glacial advances or retreats.

The list goes on. Thousands of scientists have since refined the understanding of global warming to prove its accuracy and reality. They include 2,500 scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Royal Society of London and the Royal Society of Canada, all of which are extremely credible, established and legitimate institutions. /////////////

Many skeptics say their standard of living should not be sacrificed to allow “agenda driven” scientists the ability to brainwash the world./So what would scientists gain from claiming humans are causing global warming? It certainly isn’t notoriety, it really isn’t research funding and it can’t be political capital.

Even Al Gore doesn’t seem to gain much more than name recognition from his film “An Inconvenient Truth.”

The real winners of continued skepticism are the coal, oil and livestock industries — some of the very same industries that stand to lose the most when the public becomes informed and decides not to complacently allow careless business to literally destroy the world./

For instance, ExxonMobil, one of the world’s largest oil companies, has spent millions of dollars funding skeptic organizations. Last July, The Guardian reported that ExxonMobil continues to fund groups such as the Heritage Foundation and the NCPA, among 28 others, both well known for publishing “misleading and inaccurate information’ about climate change” according to Bob Ward, policy director at Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

Big business has essentially hijacked Conservative America into incomprehensively supporting policies that threaten human survival. Examine the classic mouthpiece of Corporatocracy, FOX News. Recently Sean Hannity exploded, “The debate’s over. There’s no global warming,” as if denying factual reality can simply wish it away. His statement was based on a BBC report citing an amateur meteorologist.

His network continues to thoughtlessly fuel the fire of ignorance because it gains certain monetary benefits. Scientists worldwide plead anthropogenic global warming is real and offer centuries of studies to back up their claims, while Hannity offers loose speculation.

No one wants global warming to be real. No scientist and no party wants to stifle the economy without a necessary reason. But there’s no longer an excuse to be skeptical of global warming when scientific evidence abounds. Remaining opposition to rationality has turned the issue of global warming into a question of economics. Fine then — should we sacrifice our current standard of living to prevent further defilement of our planet? Emphatically yes.

M. Alex Stephens is a senior political science major. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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