Convenient Lies and Inconvenient Truths
The lie was dead. And damned, and truth stood up instead. - Robert Browning
On the first day of my climatology class at Wright State University in southwest Ohio, I was shocked to learn that we would later hold a debate on whether human-caused global warming was real. Reeling in my seat, I wondered if down the hall an astronomy class would deliberate on whether the earth was the center of the universe, or if the theory of plate tectonics, which explains the movements of the continents, would be proved wrong in a nearby introductory geology class.
While my fellow grad students - mostly young science teachers - felt empowered to weigh in on what could be the most important scientific issue of our time, I was dismayed. Why should the views of thousands of the world's top climate scientists, those who have spent careers publishing well-researched papers in peer-reviewed journals, as well as the leading science academies of 32 nations, be questioned by 20-somethings doing Internet searches?
Of course there is some healthy dissent in the scientific community, but the fact that no scientific body of national or international standing now rejects the conclusion that the climate is changing due to human influence should be reason enough to stop quibbling and start acting.
And there's precisely the rub - the longer we can keep the climate debate going, the more we can justify days of mindless consumption while delaying the life-altering solutions required from each of us. We hold firm to the hope that somehow the temperature records and the ice core samples are wrong, that the correlation of rising temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations with the fossil-fueled industrial revolution is mere coincidence.
This is most convenient for those whose survival depends upon the voracious energy consumption of industrial nations - Exxon Mobil Corp., for one, who spent a decade financing the few rogue scientists who broke with the prevailing scientific consensus. But it's also convenient for those of us who are just too addicted to our high-energy way-of-life, too uneasy with dramatic change, or too unsure of what to do.
In contrast to the X-files television show's motto, "I want to believe," when it comes to climate change many people's stance is, "I don't want to believe." Truly believing challenges our very view of ourselves. For how can we be moral, compassionate people while destroying the stability of our climate, upon which the survival of our civilization and species depends, and condemning future generations to live out this dangerous and irreversible experiment, so we can continue to jet ski and eat Twinkies?
Their psychologically deep-seated desire to not believe is the only explanation I can find for the arguments of the climate change skeptics, which went something like this: First, they contended that the climate was not warming. When that became indefensible, they said that it wasn't caused by humans. Finally they said that it was not harmful.
During our debate I heard this progression of arguments from my classmates, in addition to attacks on the nefarious Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a cadre of scientists plotting in secret to take away our SUVs, and even an allegation that the environmentalists' beloved wetlands, which they have been working to save for decades, contribute more greenhouse gases than our cars.
My response was simple: Don't believe me, believe the majority of the world's experts on the subject. The IPCC's most recent report, which was written by 620 scientists from 40 countries and reviewed by 620 more experts as well as representatives from 113 governments, concluded that, "warming of the climate system is unequivocal," and "most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations."
Unequivocal means definite, and very likely is defined as more than 90 percent certainty. Imagine getting a prognosis with a 90 percent chance of mortality - it would certainly make you take notice.
It is within that final 10 percent of uncertainty the climate change debate rages on, and will continue to until meaningful action is so forestalled that it becomes pointless. Then we will pursue more dramatic and risky geo-engineering efforts to maintain a livable climate - such as shooting sun-shielding particles into the upper atmosphere - as a last attempt of a desperate world.
Or we can give up the convenient lies and get to work.
People across New England witnessed a dramatic celestial event Sunday night.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Reichmuth
Over the last month, I've seen a number of opinion articles attacking electric vehicles (EVs). Sadly, this comes as no surprise: now that the Biden administration is introducing federal policies to accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles, we were bound to see a reaction from those that oppose reducing climate changing emissions and petroleum use.
The majority of EVs sold in 2020 were models with a starting price (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) under $40,000 and only a fifth of models had a starting price over $60,000.
On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.
The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>