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NativeDingo6 karma

Hi, I'm not Prof Hawkins but I'll have a go.

The Science:
Unlike religion, science is based on observable evidence. Some facts we know:
1) Burning carbon-based fuels (coal, gas, oil) creates carbon dioxide (CO2)

2) Since the 1800's humans have been burning more + more of those fuels, which previously had been underground for millions of years

3) Earth's atmosphere has various gases (nitrogen N2, oxygen O2, water vapour H2O, carbon dioxide CO2, methane CH4). Those last 3 are "Greenhouse gases". Instead of just letting sunlight through, they bounce some of it back to earth, keeping our planet warm. So, a bit like an invisible blanket, a certain level of greenhouse gases are beneficial to life on Earth. Without them, Earth would be like the Moon (very hot on the sunny side, very cold on the dark side).

4) Because of 1) and 2), more CO2 is going into our atmosphere than has for thousands of years. And staying there (it doesn't escape into space). Scientists can measure the concentration of CO2 now, and using ice-cores, ocean sediment etc. can compare it to patterns over thousands of years. We know while humans have existed, the average CO2 levels were roughly 180 - 280 parts per million. Scientists say a safe level of CO2 would be no more than 350 parts per million. It's now at 415 parts per million.

5) Our atmosphere seems so vast, how could humans affect it? Try imagining the atmosphere as a container (eg. a bathtub which can hold 350 litres). Each year seasonal growing and dying off of trees means global CO2 levels rise and fall. So it's like the bath fills and then empties. But humans are like a tap slowly adding extra CO2. Even though the bath still fills and empties, the drain hasn't changed so the extra added from the tap starts to over-fill the bath.

6) Since CO2 in our atmosphere helps trap heat, increasing the CO2 helps trap more heat. That increase might not sound like much but like a thickening of the blanket, it's creating a small change in overall temperatures. So far, scientists can see average global temperature is about 1.1 degree Celcius compared to before the 1800's. Note this is average. It's not evenly distributed so some parts (eg. polar regions) are warming more than others.

7) This global warming causes some changes: Some regions are getting hotter, with more droughts and wildfires. Since water freezes at 0 degrees Celcius, if the temperature in ice regions rises to 1 degree, it starts to melt. Thus land ice becomes sea water, creating sea level rise. Warmer water also evaporates more, creating more storms. hurricanes.

8) Scientists have known about this effect for many decades, and like most science, there have been debates about the details. But the consensus is clear.
Our atmosphere is heating, causing changes in weather patterns. So far, observed changes have overwhelmingly corresponded with predictions, and these are only getting more accurate as research & analysis tools have improved.

The Politics

9) Really, this should not be a political issue. Scientists from all over the world have come to the same conclusions for decades - we have to stop adding so much CO2 and methane to our atmosphere or our planet will become uninhabitable. It should simply be a technology and science issue.

10) We're using computers to communicate now at least in part thanks to the great energy that fossil fuels have given us. No doubt about it, our way of life has been powered by coal/oil/gas. And of course many politicians and communities are reluctant to move away from those sources of energy. But science has also now developed technology we can use that doesn't create CO2 emissions (solar, wind etc), so with the right government rules, we could move to new forms of energy.

11) The reason it has become political is some companies are making a lot of money from us burning coal/oil/gas and they don't want us to stop! Some of these corporations are the wealthiest and most powerful in the world.
Their own research showed, back in the 1970's that burning fossil fuels on such a scale would cause climatic disruption so they have spent millions of dollars lobbying politicians and trying to make the public doubt the science. It's the same tactic the tobacco companies used to delay action curbing cigarette smoking. But on a bigger scale. Also many media companies (eg. FOX news) have shares in fossil fuels and equally want you to be confused

12) As you say, many people "blindly follow" and it can be hard to understand science but easy to understand what the media and friends tell you. So, do your own research.
Who would you trust for scientific information? The weather bureau? Scientific American? NASA? David Attenborough? Bill Nye? All are saying the same things about climate. So are scientists from every single country and political system.
All the nations in the world agreed at the Paris talks in 2015 that climate change is real and we must reduce CO2 emissions (Trump now wants to retract this). Even ones who have large coal and gas reserves agreed. How can they all be wrong?
Here are a couple of links I think are useful. Find your own. Think for yourself.




NativeDingo4 karma

Many scientists, activists and journalists are now talking about 'climate disruption', or 'climate crisis'. There is also a movement to declare a 'climate emergency' - the UK government has declared one as well as local / city councils all over the world. You could be involved in this:

NativeDingo2 karma

I would put voting 1st. And getting others to do the same. Our political muscle is much stronger than our consumer muscle (although that does have value)*. So, talking about it number 2.
Number 3 would be divest. Take any money you have in savings, superannuation etc. out of funds that invest in fossil fuels.

*This video is about reducing waste but equally applies to climate action: https://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-change/

NativeDingo2 karma

Unfortunately, a lot of people don't like Al Gore (and call him a hypocrite for being wealthy and flying), so dismiss his message.
Aside from David Attenborough and Bill Nye there seem to be few well known mass communicators on climate science. We need people who ordinary citizens can relate to but also trust.

Who do you think could step up to this role?