The Conversation About Climate Change: Scientific or Political?

March 3, 2018
Policy/Ethics

In the modern day, the term “climate change” no longer only has scientific implications. Climate change has now turned into a political debate regarding its existence. Controversy has arisen over the noticeable change in the Earth’s atmospheric temperature, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and more. Despite this noticeable evidence that climate change exists and is causing an array of serious detriment, there are still many disbelievers. Whether backed by economic, political, or monetary gain, there is high stock in the fight against the legitimacy of climate change. For example, natural energy companies are the original contributors to climate change due to their selling of fossil fuels that, when used, emit greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. The atmospheric pollution of carbon dioxide is one of the main causes of climate change due to its build-up in the atmosphere, and which ultimately traps in heat originally emitted from the sun. Despite this known cause and effect relationship, coal and natural gas companies refuse to acknowledge that their products are seriously hurting the Earth’s climate. Furthermore, supporters of these companies also actively challenge the science behind climate change. This is the point in the global conversation about climate change where the focus is no longer scientific or even ethical, but rather political. Due to a straying focus from the legitimacy behind climate change, it is important to review the facts behind why it is a global dilemma that is occurring and increasing.

Temperature anomalies of 2015 compared to 1950. Photo credit: NASA
Panorama credit: Hannes Grobe, AWI

There is an abundance of evidence to prove the existence of climate change. One piece of evidence is the rising temperature on Earth. Scientists have discovered that since the 19th century, the average temperature on Earth has increased by 1.1 degrees Celsius. Furthermore, the rising temperatures have spiked within the past few years, with 2016 being the warmest year to date. In fact, 8 months in 2016 were noted to have the highest temperatures for their respective months. In addition, the rising temperatures have also affected Earth’s ocean temperatures. The top 2,300 feet of Earth’s oceans have increased in temperature within the past 50 years by 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, with rising water temperatures comes decreased ice sheet and glacier mass. To prove this phenomenon, NASA performed an experiment known as the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, which found that between 2002 and 2006, Greenland lost around 36 to 60 cubic miles of ice sheets while Antarctica lost around 36 cubic miles of ice sheets between 2002 and 2005. Where does this melted ice go? It inevitably goes into the oceans, causing sea levels to drastically rise. In fact, in the last century global sea levels have risen 8 inches. If that isn’t alarming enough, the rising sea levels of the past two decades is almost double that of the past century alone.

The evidence behind climate change is abounding and must be acknowledged. More and more studies are being conducted to investigate the relationship between greenhouse gas pollution and climate change, and the findings are increasingly worrisome and pointed. The dilemma of climate change should not be a political one because it is more than politics. Climate change is about the survival of the human race, which can only be upheld through the preservation of Earth’s health. It is time to stop worrying about climate change hurting feelings, and start worrying about climate change hurting the Earth.

Emily Earls

Emily Earls is a staff writer for the Colonial Scope.

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