World Conservation and Wildlife Trust

Fighting to protect the World's Marine Life, Wildlife, Biodiversity and Population.

1.0 Is Climate Change Real? If so, should I care?

The R.H.N. team do not claim a monopoly on knowledge or insight into the future. We would like to see a genuine debate on (1) whether you see climate change as a major problem facing our planet and us as individuals, or not, and (2) whether we as individuals should get involved.

We have set out this discussion under three headings, and invite you to comment.

1.1 Climate change is nothing to worry about?

1.1.1 Climate change is the latest end of the world prediction, join the list

A  favourite subject of prophets has always been the end of mankind and/or demise of our planet. In June of 1523, astrologers in London predicted that The End would begin in London with a deluge on February 1, 1524. Some 20,000 persons left their homes, and the Prior of St. Bartholomew's built a fortress in which he stocked enough food and water for a two-month wait. When the dreaded date failed to provide even a rain shower in a city where precipitation is very much to be expected, the astrologers recalculated and discovered they'd been a mere one hundred years off. (On the same day in 1624, astrologers were again disappointed to discover that they were still dry and alive.)

Genetically modified food, religious fundamentalism, stem cell research and designer babies, nuclear weapons proliferation, and war over oil and water shortages are just some of the more practical and urgent issues facing the planet.  Yes blue whales, snow leopards and pandas are nice, but let's get real about the issues facing real people in the real world.

1.1.2 Climate change has been invented by people wanting their 15 minutes of fame

The planet's climate has been changing for millions of years and will continue to change.  There is plenty of evidence to suggest that this is because of the Sun.  Other planets in our solar systems are experiencing climate change, such as Pluto's however, Pluto does not have humans crawling all over it. Climate change is a false myth, invented by politicised scientists and those seeking attention, such as failed presidential candidates.

Once the population gets bored, these attention seekers and spin doctors will move onto something else.

1.2 Climate change is our planet's biggest problem and my problem

1.2.1 We are on course to destroy our planet and our ability to live on it

The population of planet earth has grown and grown, but the planet has remained the same size.  It has to be true that at some point, our population will exceed the capacity of the planet to sustain it.  Have we reached that point?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  However, it must also be true that we can delay this point if we take better care of the planet and its finite resources. 

The world´'s climate is a dynamic system in which the ebb and flow of winds, tides, and currents play an important part.  The temperatures of the atmosphere and oceans play an important role in this interaction with local habitat.  The impact of the Sun with this atmosphere is also critical as we rely on the atmosphere to regulate the heat from the Sun.   What happens when the collective impact of humanity starts to seriously impact this dynamic climate system?

Our oceans and atmosphere are treated as 'rubbish dumps' that we do not need to pay for.  We continue to dump an endless array of chemicals into these essential organs of the planet's climate system.  Our habitat is increasingly replaced or simply paved over for the use of man. 

What we miss however, is that these changes have reached a point where they are already beginning to trigger massive changes in the complex dynamic of our climate systems.   What happens when the polar ice melts and swells the oceans?  What happens when these enlarged oceans expand as they get warmer and trigger the release of CO2 from millions of years of shell fish sediments?  What happens when the sea current in our oceans cease or change direction?

As we watch the loss of animals, plants and insects due to these changes, we are observing nature's warning and at some stage, we will be next.

1.2.2 Our planet has got small, everything that happens is connected

Rising sea levels and growing deserts are some of the climate change factors that will destroy the homes and livelihoods of millions of people, leading to mass migrations.  Alongside this, oil, water and food will see shortages and lead to conflicts.  Rapid immigration on top of indigenous challenges will lead to conflicts.  Every corner of the world will be impacted as millions of indigenous and migrant people fight for food, water, jobs, housing and life itself.

The problem with climate change is like AIDS or smoking.  It does not kill you immediately.  But each present action accumulates to real future consequences.  Climate change is triggering a sequence of events that could now make it unstoppable; we could be writing our children's death warrant, or at lease condemning them to a life far less enjoyable than our own.  For AIDS and smoking, we can take actions to avoid them and avoid their consequences.  We can also invest in actions that mitigate consequences and even overcome them.

Climate change is not someone else's problem. Individually, we can avoid smoking and AIDS, but we cannot avoid the consequences of climate change, as the supply of air, water, food, and, yes, climate is shared.  What others do next door, in the next town, in the next country, or in the next continent impacts you, so you need to get involved.

1.3 Climate change is real, along with a lot of other problems that have nothing to do with me

1.3.1 We changed the climate one way, we can change it back

If everyone in the world ran west at the same time, would this speed up the rotation of the earth?  This is the kind of ridiculous logic of the climate change warrior.  Maybe the climate has warmed because of the emission of certain gases.  We also know that the climate is cooled by major volcanic eruptions and the release of sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere.  So how many scientists are there in the room?  Let us ask a simple question.  A bath has a hot and cold tap.  If the bath is too hot, is the only solution to turn off the hot tap?  No, you can turn on the cold tap! Get it. We could imitate a few volcanoes and push some sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere.

1.3.2 What I do makes no difference

Look at the pollution that BP (which is mostly a US company in terms of employees and operations) is delivering into the Gulf of Mexico. The idea, that what I do as an individual can make a difference,  is silly. This is a problem created by big companies, poor government regulation and other people, especially Americans.  I could walk instead of drive; drive a smaller, slower car; eat vegetables instead of meat; live in a cold house in winter and a baking hot one in summer; have no kids; sort my litter into ten different bins; and read only second hand books.  Yes, I could make myself miserable in a vain attempt to slow the impact of global warming that will supposedly make my life miserable. But what impact would this make if greedy global companies like BP continue to wreak destruction on a scale that makes anything I do insignificant.  What would this do when 5% of the population in the US continue to directly generate 25% of the damage ´┐Ż in addition to buying goods from manufacturers in China and elsewhere in the developed world that is responsible for even more. Directly and indirectly, the US is probably responsible for at least a third or more of climate change damage.  This problem is caused by the US, not me, or my country. I pay taxes and vote.  My government needs to do its job and work out what to do with the environment, greedy corporates, and selfish Uncle Sam.  Leave me alone.