While Earth has experienced many changes in climate over the past 65 million years, recent decades have experienced the most significant climate change since the beginning of human civilized societies about 5,000 years ago. We can't blame the sun (especially not now), so who CAN we blame? The answer, alas, is us.
In 2007, a report by the UN showed strong scientific evidence that climate change is mostly due to human activities, but they weren't able to prove that the same thing has caused the melting poles (which could lead to a devastating sea level rise). Now they are.
In BBC News, Pallab Ghosh quotes climatologist Phil Jones as saying, "Our study is certainly closing a couple of gaps in the last IPCC report. But I still think that a number of people, including some politicians, are reluctant to accept the evidence or to do anything about it until we specifically come down to saying that one particular event was caused by humans like a serious flood somewhere or even a heatwave. Until we get down to smaller scale events in both time and space I still think there will be people doubting the evidence."
Researcher Charles Greene says, "The rate of warming we are seeing [now] is unprecedented in human history?As climate changes, there are going to be winners and losers, both in terms of biological species and different groups of people. The cod fishermen are out of luck, but the fishermen that have decided to go after snow crab and shrimp are very successful now." In other words, adapting to climate change is partly being able to predict what we can expect.
OK, we caused it, and we know we'll have to adapt, but can we FIX it? It's the engineers' turn to figure that out. Some of the ideas that are being proposed are putting mirrors in space to reflect sunlight away from the earth, seeding the atmosphere with particles to act as a sun block and using iron filings to stimulate the growth of plankton in the oceans, which would cause them to absorb more CO2.
In BBC News, Ghosh quotes geo-engineer Andrew Watson as saying, "Some of the ideas [that have been proposed] might have unpleasant side effects, some of them might be very expensive and some of them might not work." But hey, we've got to try.
Art credit: gimp-savvy.com
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