Let me just get this out of the way right now – I am not a climate change expert. I’m an expert on ice cream sandwiches and Seinfeld and awkward conversations and using the word “and” for dramatic effect when I should clearly be using a comma. That’s my journey. My wife, Megan Maltenfort, actually is an expert in sustainability and environmental management, as well as a big-shot, corporate, earth champion, badass. So, I’ve managed to osmote my way to a basic understanding of the key concepts. Full disclosure: I interviewed her prior to writing this so I didn’t sound like a complete idiot. But, that’s kind of my point, actually. It doesn’t take an expert to discern the very conspicuous evidence that is constantly punching us all in the face (metaphorically). There’s no debate over climate change or global warming. The global climate is changing and we are clearly causing it. There’s no denying it and it’s time to suck it up and fix the problems. So, here are some observations I’ve made to help us laymen drop the mic on this whole debate situation.
AUSTRALIA IS ON FIRE!… Like right now. It’s on fire. And I know what the deniers are fixin’ to say: “Duh, it’s hot AF there already, and dry! They get fires every year.”
Yup. You right. However, this is different than the norm and it’s getting progressively worse. There are fires in 200 different locations on the continent. The rainforest is burning – the goddamn rainforest. Suburbs of Sydney are burning. It’s a record 120 degrees. You can’t even see the Opera House through the smoke, which has crossed 9,000 miles of ocean to reach South America. The people are protesting the Prime Minister because of the administration’s history of lax policies to combat climate change, which is baffling in a place known for its natural beauty. In short, this situation has been building for decades as those in power chose to ignore it and now people and animals are dying due to all-time intense fires and heat.
So, nah… it’s not just the annual Australia cookout. It’s year after year of these conditions getting worse and left unaddressed. It’s those conditions finally reaching a level of global distress. It’s the canary in the coal mine.
Science isn’t witchcraft. Climate change deniers are acting like decades worth of studies and measurable evidence (aka “facts”) are the equivalent of a bunch of disheveled crazies, running around wearing their underwear on their heads and screaming “the devil is stealing our children’s souls” or someshit – drumming up wild conspiracy theories.
I asked my wife about the science behind global warming and she pointed me to something called “The Hockey Stick Graph,” developed by Michael Mann, a climatologist from Penn State. She dumbed its interpretation down very nicely for me. In short, the graph indicates that, prior to the Industrial Revolution the average global temperature was relatively flat and since the Industrial Revolution (and corresponding exponential increase in the usage of fossil fuels) the global temperature has sustained dramatic increases – forming the blade of the hockey stick on the graph.
So, I decided to do a little Google research on the ‘Hockey Stick’ and holy shit are people mad about it. Apparently, there was a competing study done claiming to disprove it and Mann sued somebody and there was a lot of back and forth about the whole thing. Common sense tells me that billions of dollars’ worth of special interest in fossil fuels might be fostering the vitriol from the debunking side but what do I know? I’m not a climatologist.
Oh, hey!… actually, you know who has some dope climatologists on staff? The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change does. Their analysis proves, with 95% certainty, that humans’ burning of fossil fuels is the dominant cause of global warming and something like 98% of all climate scientists agree with these studies.
See, whether or not you agree with the specific curvature of the Hockey Stick Graph doesn’t matter because we know that the trend itself is correct. Disputing that specific graph is like if Captain America stopped to assert to the rest of the Avengers that the Thanos snap would actually only kill 43% of all life in the universe, rather than the 50% Thanos was claiming. “JUST SHUT UP AND FIGHT HIM, STEVE!”
But y’all probably want to lean on that 2% of scientists who don’t agree on the IPCC findings. What if 98% of the world’s top scientists on toothpaste agreed that there’s a little bit of poop in your favorite brand? You’d just make the switch, right? It’s not worth the risk.
Even if humans weren’t causing global warming (which we totally are), we should probably do something to prevent our own extinction, right? I think that makes sense. Something is causing this planet to get hotter. Something is causing increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and producing the Greenhouse Effect. Something is causing the increased rate of animal extinctions and the rapidly melting icebergs/rising sea levels and increasingly frequent weather anomalies.
Speaking of which, I read an article about meteorologists rethinking the terminology and concept behind what are called 100-year floods, which are storms which meet a specific precipitation level and destructive capability and have a 1% likelihood of occurring each year in any given area (1% every year for 100 years = 100%). Well, when Mississippi got pounded with two such storms in two years people were like WTF? And that’s just one example. Over the past few decades there have been multiple occurrences of 100-year storms impacting the same region multiple times in just a few years’ time.
The point is, whatever your beliefs are, we know for a fact that people are dying as a result of these weather events. We know that our planet’s climate is unstable and unsustainable at our current consumption levels. No matter what the direct cause is [us], we have to take the necessary steps to reverse this course. It’s not for political posturing or the opportunity to say “hahahaha I’m right and you’re wrong, dummy.”
It’s to save our collective ass from extinction.
Also, Greta Thunberg is a G’. Some people you can just look at and know that they’re not about no play time. Greta is 16 years and 92 pounds of climate change activism, tenacity and grit. She recently took a zero-emissions Viking ship on a two-week trip across the Atlantic to speak at the UN’s climate change summit. She’s on Twitter, beefing with Donald Trump and letting him know he don’t want that smoke. Have you ever seen an interview with Greta? Sure, she’s pleasant enough and clearly a genuinely compassionate and caring person – but when an interviewer engages her about the severity of our environmental issues she invariably plants her foot, stares directly into the interviewer’s soul and, in a grabbing-you-by-your-stupid-collar sort of cadence, lets you know up from down and left from right. And what the eff are you gonna do about it, huh? Oh, Greta thought so.
‘Matter-fact, go YouTube ‘Greta Thunberg, how dare you’ right now. Here’s the link: (GRETA!).
Just watch the three-minute clip if you’re pressed for time. I’ll wait.
You done? Do you also have goosebumps on your entire goddamn body? Are you also fighting back tears of rage and solidarity for Greta? Don’t you too want to face-punch whomever is causing her this distress while simultaneously hugging her and assuring her that we’re going to fix this – that we’re going to give her back her childhood?
Listen. There’s just no point in debating anything anymore. Climate scientists have nothing to gain from devoting their lives and resources (and the resources of the world governments) to the study of climate change, other than the preservation of our natural resources and the sustenance of life on this planet. The problem is that the fossil fuel industry has everything to lose and so making the severity of the climate crisis seem less bleak is in their best interest and the interests of the political figures their money supports. But, to channel Greta, that is stupid. Fossil fuels are finite – one model suggests that, at our current rate of consumption, we will be out of oil in 30 years – gas in 40 years – coal in 70 years. Climate change is impacting our ability to grow our own food and the ways we grow it (animal agriculture being the most harmful) are exacerbating the problem. Frequent droughts and flooding are beginning to render areas of the US (and world) unlivable. We’re literally talking about the survival of life on this planet as we know it.
There’s just no debate anymore. And if anyone still thinks there is: “How dare you?”
If you’d like to donate to the brushfire relief efforts in Australia, follow the links below.