Some weeks ago I was invited to a forum about the compatibility of the free markets and a healthy environment. I honestly didn’t expect to have to defend the basic principles of Climate Change in such a forum, so imagine my disappointment when the first question was if we (me and the other panelists) really believed in Climate Change. I was about to respond when another panelist stepped forward and answered for all of us, with a simple: “Be serious, of course there is a Climate Change”.
The science around Climate Change is clear. Decades of measures proves that the climate is changing. The new IPCC report, due to be presented some weeks from now, will address that the human activity is most likely (95% of certainty) responsible for the change. Better science just confirm these assessments. Richard B. Muller, a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former MacArthur Foundation fellow was also a well known skeptic. He conducted a long and meticulous study to discredit the IPCC findings. At the end of the study he had no other choice than to recognize the existence of a Climate Change and the importance to take action.
Either for journalistic integrity (if you believe in their good faith) or because of the oil industry lobbies, the popular media tends to give the same time to the scientists who defend and attack Climate Change science, so the people get the misconception that the scientific community is divided in this matter. That is not truth. The vast majority of the scientists are convinced of Climate Change. This point was proved by a recent article that reviewed 11.944 articles published between 1991 and 2011. More than 98% of these articles concluded that there is a Climate Change and that we are responsible for it (John Cook and others. Environmental Research Letters. May 2013).
But, if it is all so clear, why don’t we take action? Well, that’s a very complex question. The long time that will take until the effects are fully visible is clearly a disincentive. The ignorance and apathy are also important. But mostly is because we don’t fully understand the magnitude of the problem. The media throws us gigantic numbers about an upcoming economical crisis and diverse political problems, and we fall in the typical mistake to attend the urgent and forget the important.
Unfortunately the nature don’t stop giving us some incentives to take action. Europe had the worst floods in centuries, USA had the worst tornado season registered, and the changes in the rain patron are threatening South America harvests. The disasters will continue, and will only get worse.
We still have some time, a very small window of opportunity. We need to put the Climate Change in the focus of discussion, and we need leaders that take the difficult decisions that can save the future. It is a tough road, but we can make it.
For now, I subscribe the initiative of climatenamechange.org, and suggest that we start to name our natural disasters after our politicians, particularly those who refuse to recognize an undeniable fact.