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If Climate Change Was Not Real…

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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… there would be a lot of other environmental issues to deal with. This is no big revelation, but it’s a question I’ve been pondering recently: What is the state of the world, not counting climate change? Or rather, what if we managed to reduce CO2 emissions to necessary levels, what would our focus be on then?

Don’t get me wrong, climate change is real, and if you need a proper education on why it is, please see John Oliver’s excellent ribbing on the topic. Rather, what I am wondering here is: what are the pressing environmental issues left, once climate change is left outside the conversation?

There are two reasons for asking this question: first, perhaps climate change is side-lining other environmental issues that need urgent attention; second, perhaps there are synergies between “solving” climate change and the other issues.

To the first issue, I am no ecopragmatist à la Nordhaus or Lomborgh, and I’m not going to say it’s a zero-sum world and we can’t try to solve climate change and malaria at the same time: we can. Nor am I saying that if you do something such as expand a marine preserve, you’re not able to fight an insurgency in Iraq; sorry, but human beings can multi-task. However, the fact remains that there is a very, very narrow window of the environment in the media, and that window keeps narrowing.

To the second issue, there are already-identified intersections for cooperation and synergy in improving the state of the environment and climate. Some synergies are already taking place, such as increased attention to the climatic effects from deforestation and the role of oceans as heat sinks.

A Scarlet Ibis Water Bird in the once-receding Amazon rainforest. Courtesy: Brandon Hoover.

So what exactly are the big areas of concern? Oceans, forests, and soil perhaps?

What got me thinking about non-climate-change issues was an article in The Guardian newspaper on June 24th, showing results from a report that the global food supply might be in peril due to insecticides. This sounds like Silent Spring all over to me, and unfortunately it appears to be pretty much along those same lines. The End of Food? I hope not.

However, it’s not all doom-and-gloom; there are some promising moves in the right direction.

So all in all, among the glimmers of hope, there are some very worrying developments that we need to keep track of, outside all the attention climate change is getting, but again, just because the news cycle can only focus on one item at a time, doesn’t mean we have to.

Tali Trigg About the Author: Energy and transport analyst who believes how you say it is as important as what you say. Opinions are his own. Follow on Twitter @talitrigg.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. JimboJennings 1:42 pm 06/27/2014

    Absolutely everyone who’s interested in the subject of global warming needs to read this:

    And this is even more sobering:

    Link to this
  2. 2. abj 1:59 pm 06/27/2014

    Do you mean
    “If climate change were not real”?

    Link to this
  3. 3. HenryB 5:42 pm 06/27/2014

    Arabs are crowding into the United States because there is no fresh drinking water in the arab countries. The ocean waters surrounding arab lands are contaminated by a species of red algae clogging the pipes used to draw water out of the ocean and into their desalination stations. We should send the arabs back to their desert lands. We could sell arabs fresh drinking water drawn from the great lakes. If we did that, we could pay off the national debt (17 trillion) in no time whatsoever. Then, soon, we would have a wealthy, all middle class nation. We could pay the arabs ten cents for a gallon of gasoline.
    Carrying Capacity estimates for the United States made by Pearl and Reed in 1920 predicted a population for the United States of some 197 million people by the year 2060. Lotka, A. J. (1925) Elements of Mathematical Biology pages: 66-68. We are now at more than 300 million people, an overload of some 103 millions. How much longer will it be until everyone in the United States dies in a home invasion, a civil war or from dehydration? (Feel free to run with this thread as if it were your own)

    Link to this
  4. 4. IainEdward 1:21 pm 06/28/2014

    Lessons from history’s idiots…

    Interesting parallel to our Climate Change debate…beginning at the 07 minute :30 second portion of the film below…minus the pickle…

    PS. It happened as predicted.

    Link to this
  5. 5. Cra5her 8:04 pm 07/7/2014

    “UNESCO rejected Australia’s unprecedented move to have Tasmanian forests delisted from their UN Heritage status”
    Australia has recently elected a Government that rejects any science that doesn’t fit in its ultra right wing pure economics framework. Science funding has been slashed. Global warming is in the words of our new Prime Minister “Bullshit”. Australia is being send back to the dark ages but please don’t blame most of us Aussies for the damage being inflicted by the current Government. I am sure/hope they will be gone next election!

    Link to this

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