Some people just don’t get that we do affect the climate

From a older post on Facebook in response to this:

“that conservation is not, nor will it ever be the answer to “repairing” or stopping global climate change (if it even exists and if it is even our fault). Technology is and always will be the answer. Nuclear power is one great solution. Offshore oil platforms will help too.”

My response:

Here’s the rub – whether or not we have an effect on the planet as a whole, we do have an effect on our survivability. It make take a few million years to recover, but the geological record shows that climate has changed, atmosphere has changed, mass extinctions have occurred for various reasons, and earth keeps chugging. But the kicker is, in all of those cases, none of the conditions were brought about by an inhabitant. There is a wad of man-made trash floating in the Pacific twice the size of continental US made of stuff we created with unnatural chemicals. Didn’t get there by itself and couldn’t get there by itself – plastics do not occur in nature. So Charles’ paper concludes with a glib quote that we’re not going to affect the earth, but we are, we do, and we may not be around as a species to see the recovery. Or very, very few of us.

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6 responses to “Some people just don’t get that we do affect the climate

  1. Putting climate change in a geological perspective always scares me. “In all of those cases, none of the conditions were brought about by an inhabitant.” Yeesh.

    Have you seen my blog? It has to do with climate change, and how it relates to big-picture ideas such as credibility and risk management. I think you might enjoy it.

    You can probably just click on my name and it’ll take you there.

    Thanks
    Kate

  2. Kate, I’ll look at more of your blog later (it does seem quite interesting), but you quoted part of my statement. Do you disagree? I should have qualified it as my thought, because I see that it could be taken as me stating an absolute. My point to the originator of that particular thread was that to not question humanity’s effects on the planet is irresponsible. I happen to think that we’ve done pretty badly in the last 150 years. There has been some recovery, but not enough.

    I don’t see how can you NOT put climate change in a geological perspective. We can see patterns and we should have some basis other than recorded history, which is far too small a window. And I think that our presence disrupts the patterns.

  3. Hey there,

    Sorry for any misunderstanding – by quoting your statement I meant that it is an especially scary thought. I’m not qualified to disagree with statements like those. I’m not a geologist.

    The real problem is not that the climate is changing, but that it is changing so fast. Carbon dioxide and temperature have been many times higher than current levels before humans were around, but life on Earth was adapted to it. Such a quick change will be too much for species, including humans, to go on without any trouble.

    • Concur – and the scariest part of all is that most people don’t see it. I believe that the Earth will recover if we pollute it so bad as to wipe out most of the species – it will take a long time, and as you intimate, humanity probably won’t be around to witness the recovery. Adaptation can take both the short and long paths, and catastrophic changes in the environment would likely result in the former, as too drastic a change could wipe out the majority of species’ populations, leaving only those that had some mechanism for survival to pass on the successful genes.

      As for qualifications, I’m not a geologist either. Nor a climatologist (mechanical engineer with an emphasis on energy management). But like you, I can read. And if you can read and think, you can give your qualified disagreement. However, I’ll infer that you are inclined to agree that the rapid changes are mostly likely brought about by our actions. I look forward to reading your entire site – I already know I disagree with some of the statements, but agree with most of what I scanned.

      Thanks for finding me! (I actually intended my blog to span a lot more than climate – I’m just starting out. Hope to have a few books reviews posted soon.)

  4. Yours sounds like a very interesting career. A friend of mine is considering a similar direction in engineering. I’m working towards climatology but it’ll be a good number of years yet.

    Do you have any recommendations as to literature dealing with climate change in the geological perspective? I’ve heard Pearce’s “With Speed and Violence” is good, have you read it?

    I’d love your feedback on my blog, most of my posts are musings – I stay away from hard data of the sort you can get much more easily at NASA – and any sort of discussion or criticism helps me to develop my opinions even more. Already some commenters have brought up ideas I hadn’t even considered. Amazing how many like-minded people there are out there!

    • I’ve read that Kerry Emanuel’s “What We Know About Climate Change” is one of the best. The biggest complaint is that it is too short.

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