OPINION: Climate change’s incomprehensible truth


Just a few days ago, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its latest data, showing that this July was the hottest single month on Earth since official records began in 1880.

It was also revealed by NOAA researchers that, barring a huge unexpected shift, 2015 is set to become the warmest year on record.

If you have any news awareness, you’ll know that facts like these just keep coming – heat records keep getting broken. Articles like “July Was The Hottest Month Since Records Began,” which ran last Friday on IFLScience, are constantly recurring. The article cites many recent record-breaking heat waves and included quotes like “nine of the 10 hottest months occurred in the last decade since records began in 1880,” and that “the first seven months of 2015 were the hottest January-July period recorded,” from NOAA.

The barrage of similarly alarming articles is not going to stop anytime soon, either, because the Earth is warming.

And that right there – the Earth is warming – is perhaps the most undeservingly-labeled “controversial” phrase of today’s time. Global warming is frightening, yes, but it should absolutely not be controversial.

Earlier this year, the Pew Research Center released an article titled “Public and Scientists’ Views on Science and Society,” and their findings revealed some interesting views on this issue. According to their statistics, 87 percent of American Association for the Advancement of Science scientists have said they believe that climate change is mostly caused by human activity; an overwhelming 97 percent have said they believe that climate change is real overall.

Contrasted with the scientists, the Pew results show that only 50 percent of U.S. adults believe climate change is mostly caused by human activity, while a shocking 25 percent said that there was no solid evidence of climate change at all. These are huge, and if the scientists are right, potentially destructive, gaps between the experts and the general public. And they don’t end there.

Another question was proposed in that same Pew report: “Is Climate Change a Problem?” 77 percent of AAAS scientists answered that it was a very serious problem, while 17 percent said that it was a somewhat serious problem. Only six percent said that it was either not too serious a problem, or not a problem.

If we compare that to U.S. adults, we’ll find that only 33 percent answered that climate change was a very serious problem, and 32 percent said it was a somewhat serious problem. A combined 35 percent answered that it was not too serious a problem, not a problem, or they didn’t know.

Of that 35 percent, however, only two percent said they didn’t know or had no response. That means that 33 percent of the U.S. adults recorded said they believed that climate change was not a serious problem or not a problem at all, and were sure enough to say so.

These are dangerous statistics. They mean that one-third of the adult population in this country is not going to get behind collective action to combat this global crisis because they believe there is no global crisis.

What does it say about a society when it disagrees so vehemently with its experts? Are we suffering from a lack of information, from misinformation or do we just not trust science? It is baffling to me … why would we not trust science?

The evidence on sea level rise, global temperature rise, warming oceans, shrinking ice sheets, declining arctic sea ice, glacial retreat, extreme events, ocean acidification, decreased snow cover and other global phenomena is plain and clear to see. And we’re well past the point where denying these facts is not flat out dangerous and irresponsible – because it now very much is.

If you are still one of those shocking few that flatly denies any evidence of global warming, man-made or not, despite what the experts are telling you, then I suppose we’re done here. This conversation will do no good; you may go. For if you still refuse to submit yourself to fact, then nothing but a literal reversal of the cosmos with the searing Earth instead warming the Sun will convince you otherwise.

Please put this scientific conspiracy out of your mind and continue scraping the side of your (still cold, thank you) freezer, with your best scraping teeth, for an argumentative point … while our home dies.

For the others who are serious about having an adult conversation about these issues, check back in with the K-State Collegian on Tuesday and Friday as I continue on about the impacts and potential solutions to climate change and also talk about our society’s leaders and their collective issues on the topic. If you agree, you’ll want to read it. And if you disagree, you’ll also want to read it, if only to quietly shake your head at me or very loudly tell me where I’m wrong.

As long as we don’t all melt first.

Jonathan Greig is a senior in anthropology.

Jonathan Greig
Hi, I’m Jonathan. I graduate this December, majoring in Anthropology, with minors in Creative Writing and Political Science. After that … we’ll see. Maybe graduate school in environmental anthropology. Maybe I’ll finally pursue my old childhood dream of becoming an infomercial host. It’s up in the air. Some of my interests and hobbies include devout sports fanaticism, religious study, and composing country songs that serve to explain the unearthly amount of disdain I have for country music. My band’s called Catfish Hurricane, you should check us out. Well, actually, you shouldn’t. I love writing, which is how I accidentally stumbled into this job. This stumbling into good things is my plan for life in general.