Invalid Arguments: Climate Change


Good Morning John. I've got a problem. I will still be alive in 2060, probably. That's when the population will probably peak at around 10 billion people and also it is probably when we are gonna start feeling the really significant effects of global climate change. That's not a problem that is gonna be solved in the next 50 years. It's gonna be a problem when I die. And when you die. And lots of other problems will remain unsolved, and that's okay. Like, no one has ever died having solved all the problems. It was okay for them, it'll be okay for us. But that doesn't mean that there isn't a path that we should be walking down to solve the problems eventually. But I feel like before we can start walking on that path, we have to sort of agree that there is a problem, which we apparently haven't done yet. So here are the top 10 arguments people use to say global warming either isn't a thing or isn't caused by humans and my responses to them: "Climate change is natural it's happened before".

Yes, the climate has changed in the past. Often due to an increase in the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, which is actually a pretty clear indication that increase in carbon dioxide will increase temperatures. "But, Hank, CO2 concentration is only increased because temperature is increased, not the other way around". It is true that many warming events began without carbon dioxide levels increasing first; however, once the warming began, carbon dioxide levels increased, greatly amplifying the warming. Of the warming events we have record for, 90% of the warming took place after the carbon dioxide levels increased. "It's just that the sun's been getting hotter". No! "The data these scientists are using are wrong because they put the thermometers in cities where there is heat sources and asphalt to heat everything up." The heating of the planet shows up when you look at weather stations in cities or in rural areas, it shows up when you look at satellite data or thermometers that are sunk deep in the ocean.

It's everywhere. Scientists are not stupid. "The earth is actually cooling." No, I mean it's not…it's not, at all. 2000 to 2010 was the hottest decade ever. Ever on record. "But it's not warming up as fast". If you pick the years from 2009 'till now the trend line is indeed not as steep. But the climate doesn't change on the scale of years. That's like looking at a picture made of five pixels and trying to figure out what it is. It's just not going to be very clear. That's why we look at decades and centuries of data. "They predicted an ice age in the 70's". A small research team did say that and the news media talked about it for about two weeks. But the vast majority of peer-reviewed science during the 70's said that the climate was warming. Because of – you guessed it – carbon dioxide emissions. "You're just cherry-picking the data that support your hypothesis". Data supporting global warming comes from like every branch of science: whether it's biology, with animals ranging farther north, or epidemiology, with disease ranges spreading, or agriculture, with yields increasing in temperate areas, increased water temperatures, decreased snowfall, earlier snowmelt, rising sea levels.

"But Antarctica has more ice now than it used to". No. But interestingly, it does have more sea ice than it used to. There is land ice, the ice that exists on the land of Antarctica (which is a continent), and then there is sea ice, which (for the most part) forms in the winter and melts in the summer. The land ice, the glaciers, is what you have to worry about, and that is melting at an alarming rate. Now, why there is more sea ice in Antarctica now than there has been previously is an interesting question. One that has been studied. And here is a quick description – you can pause the video to read it. "Fossil fuels… they're great". On this point, I agree with you. I think fossil fuels are miraculous. They are a precious resource. I'm not gonna rag on anyone who works hard providing inexpensive energy and the freedom and happiness that it provides.

But there are costs to burning fossil fuels. So we have to use them less, by choice and through hard work. We have to develop alternatives, we have to be more efficient, and we have to change the way that we live our lives. But as long as we agree that there is a problem I have complete faith in humanity's ability to solve it. Because solving problems is what we do best. John, I'll see you on Tuesday..