Guest View: Climate Change - A Discussion

Thursday, June 21, 2018 | by Caroline Hasty |


My name is Caroline Hasty. I live in Washburn county, and am worried about climate change. I am not a scientist, politician or lobbyist. I am frightened about the future facing my children and grandchildren. Understanding climate change isn’t difficult. Doing something about it, while we still can, is imperative.

What is it?

Climate change is the catch-all term for the shift in worldwide weather patterns associated with an increase in global average temperatures. It's real. Temperatures have been going up around the world for many decades. Climate differs from weather. Weather is the changes we see from day to day. Climate is the usual weather, measured over a period of many years.

The Earth’s climate is always changing. The difference now is that it is changing much more rapidly than it ever has. According to the NASA website, the earth has warmed 1.8 degrees F since 1880. This may not seem like much, but small changes in Earth's temperature can have big effects.

What causes it?

The atmosphere of the Earth acts as a blanket. Sunlight passes through the atmosphere, and it is held in place by the atmosphere to warm the Earth, and some is radiated back to space. As human activity creates excessive gasses like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, they accumulate in the atmosphere. These manmade gasses don't allow heat to dissipate back to space, but absorb and trap it, resulting in a continuing buildup of heat.

Even accounting for natural variation in climate, global temperatures are on the increase and are expected to rise further.  As we continue to produce an overload of these heat trapping gasses, climate change and its’ resulting problems accelerate.

Some people don’t believe that humans are responsible for climate change. Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities. If 97 out of 100 doctors told you that you’ve developed diabetes and it requires treatment – do you believe them?  If you are presented with physical proof of the diabetes - high blood sugars, excessive thirst or hunger, do you still disregard the vast majority of doctors?  If not, then why do some insist on disregarding the vast majority of professional scientists, even when faced with irrefutable evidence?

Some days the effects of climate change are easy to disregard: a storm, a drought, a flood “over there”, with seemingly no bearing on us or our lives. But with increasing frequency the problems are impossible to ignore. Our daily lives can be so busy. Work, school, kids, sports, bills to pay, viral You Tube videos to watch, chores and other diversions all call for our attention. But none of us are immune from climate change.

The heat. The storms, increasing in severity and frequency. The fires. The drought. The mass migrations of displaced persons. The mass extinction of species. The spread of diseases as the controlling climate factors change. The warming and acidification of the oceans. All of these are occurring now, and at an ever-increasing rate. If you think they aren’t directly affecting you, at the very least the expense of paying for them does. Natural disasters are on an upward trend. In the United States alone, they cost us over 300 billion dollars in 2017. None of us are exempt.

In future articles I hope to explore other aspects of climate change, such as evidence, causes, effects, and ways to potentially slow it down.

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