Effects to Date
Is it Our Fault?
Is it Our Fault?
Some people say that climate cycles have always existed, that the climate changes anyway and that there is no proof that our greenhouse gas
emissions contribute significantly to this. Some arguments against this are:
The majority view of researchers, who have
taken natural climate variation into account (including changes in the sun's
heat), is that only our greenhouse gas emissions can explain the amount of
warming, especially since 1975. As new evidence emerges, the potential risks
of our emissions keep being revised in an upwards direction.
burning, industrial and deforestation activities since the industrial
increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by around 38% and
methane by 100%, plus other greenhouse gases. We know that these
emissions add to warming (by definition) – apart from scientists'
predictions from computer modelling, it is
reasonable to believe that this rapid addition will have a
The potential climate extremes are on a much greater scale than, for example, the
"Medieval Warm Period" which
started in the 9th century,
or the "Little-Ice Ages"
which followed it from the 14th to 19th
centuries. On top of the previous causes (El
Nino, sun, volcanoes, agricultural
changes, etc), the new factor is man-made greenhouse gas - according
to ice core analysis, there is now vastly more of it in the atmosphere than
for the last 600,000 years.
There are now 12 times as many people in the world
(and in the UK) than 300
years ago. On top of that, each of us in industrialised countries is
consuming vastly more energy and therefore creating many times the
greenhouse gas than anyone living previously. We shouldn't expect to
be able to seriously modify nature's finely balanced systems to this extent without
something having to give.
The lack of
cause-and-effect proof is no reason not to strive to reduce emissions. To
fail to act is to take an enormous gamble with the wellbeing of others and
of future generations, or at worst, with life on Earth. It is too convenient
to deny the problem so that we can continue our current lifestyles involving
un-moderated energy consumption. There may never be proof.