Unfortunately, climate change has become a political issue that is too often distilled down and divided into ideological camps. It is used to rally troops and discredit opposing parties, to further political agendas. It is a political hand grenade that is thrown with reckless abandon to the point that the science itself is questioned.
When David Biello asked last week “what will it take to solve climate change?”, my initial reaction was that we should start by agreeing on what we know about climate change – facts as determined by scientists around the world. After that, we can have rational discussions and spirited debates about how to most effectively curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Because we actually know a lot about climate change! We know that the climate warms and cools over time. We know that atmospheric carbon dioxide traps heat in the form of radiation from the sun. We know that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen as mankind has been burning fossil resources and destroying carbon sinks (forests!). We know that the climate is changing, and that not all of the outcomes will be favorable.
But those with an interest in stalling progress on climate change have been successful by injecting uncertainty into the discussion to the point where you’re arguing these very facts over Thanksgiving dinner.
A new video by scientists Peter C. Frumhoff, an ecologist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Kerry Emanuel, a climate and hurricane researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a step in the right direction. Frumhoff and Emanuel are from different political parties: Frumhoff is a liberal Democrat and Emanuel is currently an independent (formerly a Republican). They both agree on the science of climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
My point is: climate change is larger than any political party, any political agenda. Let's agree on the facts so we can move on to finding solutions. Reclaim Thanksgiving dinner.
Hat tip to Andy Revkin over at Dot Earth.