Timeline of recent environmental concerns
Part 1: 2013: Quotes. Background.
Bay of Bengal
Canada's arctic ice cover shrinks.
- "... in my humble opinion, folks, if you believe in God, then intellectually you cannot believe in man-made global warming." Rush Limbauh. 1
- "In the judgment of most climate scientists, Earth’s warming in recent decades has been caused primarily by human activities that have increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere." US National Academy of Sciences. 2
There is a very strong and well financed climate change denial movement, particularly in North America. Some of their efforts are directed at denying that climate change is actually happening; the rest admits that climate change is a reality but denies that human factors are causing it. Countering this are many findings of climate researchers who are measuring hard data related to ongoing climate change worldwide.
The results of a survey of almost 12,000 abstracts of peer-reviewed scientific papers papers on global warming was published in 2013-JAN. 3 Jason Samenow reported:
"... there is strong scientific consensus that human activities are causing the planet to warm. 97 percent of those scientific papers that take a stance on the issue agree." 4
A slightly deceptive T-shirt design:
Actually, the T-shirt should say that 97% of scientific articles on climate change that mention its cause agree that it is primarily caused by human activity.
2013-APR: Results of a public opinion poll:
The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication has conducted eight surveys of public opinion about climate change and global warming since late 2008. During 2013-APR, they surveyed 1045 randomly selected American adults. The margin of error is ±3 percentage points. They found:
- 63% of those sampled believe that global warming is happening; 16% deny it.
- 49% believe that if global warming is happening, it is caused by mostly human activities.
- 42% believe that "most scientists think global warming is happening;" 33% believe that there is widespread disagreement among scientists about the reality of warming.
- 51% say they are "somewhat" or "very worried" about global warming.
- 55% believe that global warming is a threat to persons in developing countries.
- 38% believe that people around the world are being harmed by climate change.
- 34% believe that fellow Americans are being harmed.
- 63% believe that global warming will negatively affect future generations of people.
Their report concluded:
"Over many years of research, we have consistently found that, on average, Americans view climate change as a threat distant in space and time -– a risk that will affect far away places, other species, or future generations more than people here and now." 5
One cause of the sluggishness of the public to demand action is found in our brain circuitry. Over most of the history of the human race, people's brains have tended to react instantly to immediate threats. However, they tend to pay much less attention to future, slowly approaching threats. Today, this conditioning may produce a major catastrophe.
Of particular concern to researchers are the data that show the existence of what are called "positive feedback loops." This is a phenomenon in which a change in the environment will produce some effect, which will in turn feed back to increase the rate of increase of the original change. For example:
- Warming in the polar regions is reducting the extent of Arctic sea ice.
- Less sea ice increases the area of open water in the Arctic.
- More open water adsorbs increasing amounts of heat from the sun.
- This added heat increases the rate at which warming occurs.
- Back to step 1.
A second positive feedback loop also occurrs in the Artcic:
- Warming in the polar regions is melting wide areas of permafrost. This term refers to areas of the surface of the Earth that are normally frozen year around.
- Melting permafrost releases gasses such as methane into the atmosphere that had been previously trapped in the permafrost.
- Methane intensifies the atmosphere's greenhouse effect which causes the atmosphere to retain more of the Sun's heat.
- Back to step 1.
Climate change solves an international conflict in the Bay of Bengal:
From about 1980 to 2010, India and Bangladesh had been in conflict over the control of a tiny rock island in the Bay of Bengal. It is called New Moore Island by India and South Talpatti by Bangladesh. It is one of the Sunderbans chain of islands.
In the decades before the year 2000, the sea level in the Bay had been rising about 3 millimeters (0.12 inches) a year. During the first decade of the 21st century, the rate of rise has been accelerating and has reached about 5 millimeters (0.3 inches) a year. Scientists attribute this increased rate to two causes:
- Climate change is warming the earth generally. This causes glaciers in Greenland, the Antarctic, and elsewhere to melt more rapidly, increasing the ocean level directly.
- A warming Earth warms up the oceans which makes the ocean water expand, further increasing the ocean level.
This increase in ocean level has caused New Moore Island in the Bay of Bengal to be completely submerged. For a while, will be a shipping hazard. However. it is no longer an island.
Sugata Hazra, a professor at Jadavpur University in Calcutta commented:
"What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, has been resolved by global warming."
He noted that Lohachara island in the same chain became completely submerged in 1996, forcing its residents to move to the mainland. Also about half of the land area of Ghoramara Island is currently underwater. Ten or more other islands in the area are at risk.
"We will have ever larger numbers of people displaced from the Sunderbans as more island areas come under water."
Some mathematical models predict that sea levels worldwide will rise about 1 meter (3.3 feet) by the year 2050. This will submerge about 18% of Bangladesh's costal area under water and displace about 20 million people. 6
1978 to 2013: A graph by the National Snow and Ice Data Center shows conclusive decline in Arctic sea ice extent:
The blue line shows a linear decline in area of 2.9 percent per decade. As noted in the Background topic above, this rate is probably going to accelerate in the future.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- David Edwards, "Limbaugh: Christians ‘cannot believe in manmade global warming," Raw Story, 2013-AUG-12, at: http://www.rawstory.com/
- "Understanding and Responding to Climate Change," US National Research Council, 2008, at: http://dels.nas.edu
- Stephen Leahy, "Canada losing its seasons," Inter Press Service, 2013-MAR-11, at: http://www.ipsnews.net/
- Jason Samenow, "97 percent of scientific studies agree on manmade global warming, so what now?," Washington Post, 2013-MAY-17, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
- Anthony Leiserowitz, et. al, "Climate Change in the American Mind," Center for Climate Change Communication (CCCC; 4C), 2013-APR, at http://environment.yale.edu/
- "New Moore Island DISAPPEARS into the sea," Huffington Post, 2010-MAR-24, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
- John Cook, et. al, "Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature," Environmental Research Letters, Volume 8, #2, 2013-MAY-15, at: http://iopscience.iop.org/
Copyright © 2013 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2013-MAR-15
Latest update: 2016-APR-28
Author: B.A. Robinson