Climate Change: An issue in the eye of the beholder.

Hurricane Harvey, and many other storms like it occurring recently in the 21st century, is the product of the rising issue of climate change. Worldwide, climate change has been a problem for decades but only in the past few years has it become apparent the gravity of it. Our excessive release of greenhouse gases have created an unbelievable rise in CO2 levels and thus a rise in global temperatures. This rise in atmospheric temperatures has caused oceans to warm and ground temperatures to skyrocket. Both of these unnatural changes all play a role in the increase in numbers and scale of the fires, storms, drought and floods worldwide. Climate change has increased the melting of our glaciers, in turn raising sea levels and water temperatures.

The effects of Hurricane Harvey: A storm heightened by climate change

This global increase in temperature creates a domino effect; the warmer raised oceans cause storms to form faster and be magnitudes we have never seen before. Our global temperatures have and will continue to rise if action is not taken to stop fossil fuels and other greenhouse gasses from being released into the atmosphere. The issues we have to face are not only with the physical aspect but also the human aspects of climate change involving politics, differences of opinion on its importance, and what action is to be taken.

I have always viewed climate change as something that needs to be prioritized over many of the other human issues involving, politics and economics. My opinion on the matter is in support of climatologists and all those who have made efforts towards stopping climate change. The world is a place where all life should be able to exist and thrive, not a place for humans to do what they want with, trampling on whatever is in our path. Humanity as a whole must find the need to respect both the environment and all the organisms around us. Since much of the damage has been done, people must come to terms with the fact that we cannot reverse but move forward but in different way. To continue to thrive and develop we have to take into account that our actions often negatively affect the world around us unless we consciously are aware of it. I am in complete agreement with researchers and scientists who have used their skills to prove the effects of climate change. This is for fairly obvious reasons, they show how much of an effect humanity has had on the environment and the amount of change required to make a difference. I truly believe that something has to be done and that anyone and everyone can do their part to contribute.

The individuals who hold a similar view point to mine are those who believe in climate change and are willing to face it head on. They strongly believe that the situation at hand needs to be dealt with immediately in the best way possible, to prevent hurricanes like Harvey from happening again and eventually escalating. Being prepared for more storms and disasters to come is the main concern of many cities and governments. The reason for their thinking is best explained as, efforts to reverse climate change can be put into action but they cannot stop the storms already set in place by already raised temperatures. Climatologists, scientists focussed primarily on climate, do agree with the logistics of this point of view but, they also believe there is room for change and improvement within the lifestyles of each individual. A change in the way people individually and as a whole use energy, water, and treat the planet they call their home is imperative in the ending of climate change. Naomi Klein, the author of Harvey Didn’t Come Out of the Blue. Now Is The Time to Talk About Climate Change, speaks of the reality of climate change today. She, like many others, including myself, believe that climate change is a present issue that needs to be prioritized. Harvey was a wake up call, we “need to seize the moment to lay out intersectional solutions, ones that dramatically lower emissions while battling all forms of inequality and injustice”, (Klein, 2017) Klein, sums up the situation and solutions perfectly. She puts everything into perspective, by not only stating what we need to do but, that it is imperative that we do so immediately. The present is the best time to take action so why put off a problem that is only going to get progressively worse. Klein also emphasizes that there is more than one problem at had involving both environmental and human issues. She explains that targeting one source is only going to get you so far. To make an impactful change the best approach is to take it on from all angles.

A prominent perspective opposing climate change is generally just those who deny its existence and our involvement in it. People like President Trump and his administration see it as a waste of money to put our efforts in things like reducing pollution and finding other means of energy. Their unwavering opinion is that we shouldn’t be concerned with climate change because it isn’t our problem to solve. The author of The Undeniable, Commonsense Response to Harvey, Rhea Suh, shares my perspective but explains the other side in a very intriguing way. Suh states “President Trump is foolishly withdrawing U.S. participation in the 2015 Paris climate accords, putting our country at odds with China, India, Germany, Japan, and more than 190 other countries that have put real plans on the table for cutting fossil fuel pollution in favor of cleaner fuels”. (Suh, 2017) Her statement points out the opposite argument and their ideals and plans in relation to those of her own and many others in support of ending climate change. Trump, like numerous others who don’t believe in climate change refuse to waste money and time on something they see as futile or non-existence. The famous tweet by our President elect, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” (Trump, 2012), is just one example of the ignorance involved in the denial of climate change and its existence. Due to his status President Trump has a big influence on many american citizens and their opinions involving the reality of climate change. Like with almost any topic, climate change is hard to make others fully understand your point of view, especially if those who oppose are in a position of power. Even so, more often than not when an individual strongly believes or doesn’t believe in something there is little to nothing anyone can do to change their mind.

There are some people who don’t deny the existence of climate change but, they do argue that it is not man made, and is just something we have to let come and pass. Their view on climate change is like that of an the ice ages, which occurred long before humans even came into existence. They believe that climate change and the warming of the earth will happen no matter what because it is a part of nature’s cycle. Once it is over things will be “reborn” in a sense, and the world will thrive once again. While it is true that “In the natural cycle, the world can warm, and cool, without any human interference.” (OSS foundation, open source systems science and solutions, 2014), there has been a great amount of evidence showing, that because of fossil fuel burning “The world has also warmed unnaturally. We are now deviating from the natural cycle” (OSS foundation, open source systems science and solutions, 2014). This poses a question. What do we, as humans, believe is the real truth? Do we trust in science and research or, would we all be better off if we let nature take its course. There could still be a chance that climate change could just be a false alarm and that even without human factors that it, like the Ice ages, could still occur. The real issue is do we try to do something about it anyway? Can we insert ourselves into the natural world without having an even more negative effect? There are so many ifs and shoulds when it comes to climate change and the many problems that have caused it and it has created. It is how we approach each issue, question, and event that will determine the outcome of climate change.

The perspectives and opinions when it comes to climate change are almost limitless. The most prominent and logical opinion is that of researchers and scientists who have dedicated their lives to learning about the environment. They are the individuals who are fighting to stop climate change and make sure all can be prepared for the disasters already set in motion. The reason their position is correct is because, they can not only prove climate change is happening but also provide evidence that it is the cause of the escalation in the amount and sheer size of the natural disasters the past few years. One main issue with climate change is making people understand what it is and how they have been a factor in it, and ways in which each individual can make a difference. People respond to social norms and cues far better than they do science. So the difficulty is, how to combine the two in a way that motivates people to make change. The scientists and researchers behind many studies and articles have opened windows for those that otherwise would have no other way of gaining an understanding of climate change. I believe that individuals like Aarne Granlund author of Three Things We Don’t Understand About Climate Change have the perspectives and opinions that are on the right track. This is because Granlund, is an author and he has a logical and realistic point of view on the problem as a whole. He is able to bring both social aspects and scientific aspects into writing that all can comprehend and be motivated by.

People who truly deny climate change, both its existence and humanity being its cause, are the ones who are thinking about the situation in a backwards manner. There has been study after study all proving its existence and that greenhouse gasses are the primary source. Many of the individuals who don’t believe in climate change are only thinking about direct effects, they aren’t seeing the change for themselves. For some, seeing is believing, what they require is visual proof to be convinced, so scientists gave them exactly that.

Photo evidence of recession: Glacier national park

In 2012 this type of evidence was finally available to the public when the, now famous movie, Chasing Ice was released. The award winning production, thought up and put together by photographer, James Balog, is a film showing the recession of the earth’s glaciers in the past two years. Using cameras placed in areas viewing select glaciers in the arctic he was able to put together the photos taken over the two year period and turn them into a stop motion type video, making the ice come to life. This movie was able to give viewers a visual showing of how fast the glaciers have been shrinking. The amount of recession recently is more than double the amount that occurred the previous 100 years. Even with proof like this there are individuals who still deny climate change and that its effects are detrimental to the health and well being of the planet.

Through the processes of learning about environmental studies and climate change in particular, I have gotten to not only form my own opinion but also hear from many different sides of the issue. My point of view has not changed but I have gotten the chance to understand where the other sides of the argument are coming from. While climate change has been proven to be an issue primarily caused by an excess of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere through scientific studies and experiments, it can be argued that it might have developed anyway. Ice ages have happened and this could be an inverse version of one such an occurrence. If this is the case they believe that humanity should not interfere posing a new question on what the right response actually is. You can never fully make someone believe something if they don’t want to believe it. There will always be skeptics when it comes to climate change and no amount of visual, or scientific proof will change that. While there are people with this view, there are others whose will never give up because they have dedicated their lives to the betterment of our planet. Since humanity is the central cause of climate change that it is our responsibility to do everything we can to mend the damage we have caused. Overall, there are endless opinions and ways of approach to climate change and the real challenge is taking all these factors into account. In the end it is imperative that action is taken whether it is to be prepared or to prevent more disasters like hurricane Harvey from happening.