By Tony Lewis
First of all, climate is ALWAYS changing. That is a FACT!
Let’s review a couple of things about climate. There are many variables to it, including:
1) Temperature (mean, maximum and minimum on a long-term basis and their variability, for example spanning one-, 10- or 30-year periods).
2) Precipitation (sums of daily total, number of storm event totals and their frequency, intensity, duration, etc.).
3) Wind (average, peak and directional changes).
4) Evaporation (total amount, rate and seasonal changes).
These items above are a few of the important climate variables that need to be considered over an extended period of time. There is also the question of scale (local, regional or global). We all experience one of these variables, average temperature, as we go from our backyard to the city of Sandpoint to the state of Idaho to the entire United States and so on to a global extent. What a difference! Now consider the complexity of the effect of scale on all the rest of the variable.
As you can see, CLIMATE IS COMPLEX. For the sake of this discussion, let’s focus on global scale temperature trends during the historic period, or in other words the systematic period of collecting atmospheric information (acknowledging the fact that prior to the launching of weather satellites, weather/climate data collection focused on areas of human occupation and greatly under-represented the oceans, deserts, mountains, ice-covered land and water, areas of permafrost and other largely uninhabited surfaces of the earth). Coupled with this paucity of data, the standardization of measures (location, equipment and human inaccuracies) left a lot to be desired; however, this historic pre-satellite data is the most extensive data we have. Calibrated measuring equipment on board the plethora of weather satellites operated and shared by the international community now provides us with accurate, standardized atmospheric information on multiple scales and in a north, south and vertical direction. That is right — we now have access to information not only for the entire surface of the earth but also in the column above the surface.
Based on the historic, systematically collected weather data, the earth’s temperature is rising on global, regional and (sometimes) local scales. That is a FACT! Of course, someone may select a small area or a small data set to refute this statement, but there are always outliers/anomalies in such a complex environment as our atmosphere and earth surface.
Burning fossil fuels releases CO2, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. The increase in global temperature correlates closely with the increase in atmospheric CO2 since the Industrial Revolution. That is a FACT!
We can choose to believe that global temperature is not increasing, just as we can choose to believe that the earth is not billions of years old, or that we never put a man on the moon, or that the earth does not revolve around the sun, but the facts are just not there to substantiate those beliefs.
Scientific data are generally collected for the purpose of advancing our knowledge and increasing our understanding. Such data and resulting scientific findings are usually vetted by a critical review process and made available to the scientific community as well as the general public. Such science based research has a much higher level of credibility than research conducted on the impact of cigarettes on our health by tobacco companies or research supported by fossil fuel based companies on the impact of burning fossil fuels on air pollution and climate change. Quarterly profits are the driving force of that research and NOT the collective welfare of human-kind nor the holistic advancement of science.
Climate change is a FACT! Global temperature is rising faster than predicted, and the rise is correlated with an increase in greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, largely due to human activity.
If you question the validity of these FACTS based on criticism from the fossil fuel industry or politicians supported by their massive profits, then you must hold both sides to the same standards. A snowflake in June or two days of below-average temperatures in Sandpoint do not negate the FACT that global warming is happening, and we better take preventative measures to slow the rate down and/or prepare for its effects, if not for us then for our children and grandchildren!