Editorial: Move past climate change debate
It’s time to stop debating the validity of climate change.
Perhaps, for some reason, you don’t like hearing that humans have had a significant hand in changing the world’s environment — perhaps you don’t believe the data.
But not liking the answer or trying to prove that the scientific data don’t add up doesn’t mean that global warming isn’t real.
It’s important that any wariness you feel doesn’t stand in the way of the efforts to face the challenges posed by this phenomena or the ones that are looming on the horizon.
Those challenges are real ... very real ... and won’t be overcome easily or quickly even if humans are galvanized into action.
That was the message of recent reports on climate change.
More than 300 scientists, writing in the U.S. National Climate Assessment, stated in no uncertain terms that we are already seeing weather-related disasters that are costing us dearly. According to the report, weather-related costs in 2012 across the United States break down this way: $30 billion from the drought and heat wave, $65 billion from Superstorm Sandy, an estimated $2.3 billion attached to Hurricane Isaac, $11.1 billion from other weather events, like tornados, around the country and $1 billion from Western wildfires.
Here in the Northeast, we can expect to see far more precipitation in the future in what is described as “heavy events,” in both rain and snow. Another product of climate change is the rising sea levels. Just this week came the news about the collapse of ice sheets in West Antarctica, which is expected to contribute heavily to ocean encroachment on our coasts.
The U.S., report came just days after a United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, the first one since 2007, that made the issues at hand clear. “We live in an era of man-made climate change,” said Vicente Barros, co-chairman of Working Group II, which published the report.
“In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face. Investments in better preparation can pay dividends both for the present and for the future.”
That was echoed in the U.S. report: “While scientists continue to refine projections of the future, observations unequivocally show that climate is changing and that the warming of the past 50 years is primarily due to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases.”
What faces the U.S. and the other nations around the world is a momentous task. We have to overcome differences between industrialized nations and poorer nations. We also have to find ways to jump-start the scientific research and development that will lead to solutions.
Continuing to engage in the debate over the validity of climate change gets us nowhere.
Those who want to continue arguing should step out of the way — there’s work to do.