Folks, today a classmate of mine made a very bold statement that honestly disturbed me. This is a really smart kid, so I was shocked that he could completely throw aside logic the way he did when he said something along the lines of, “I don’t believe Global Warming is a problem. It’s not something that we need to worry about. It’s a fabricated thing. The Earth has been much hotter than it is now, and the Earth goes through natural heating phases.”
Well, a lot of things to say there. Firstly, the science is in, buddy. Global warming is real. I’m going to link you to a bunch of articles and graphs and stuff at the end of this post (places where I’m getting all my info from), that anyone who still thinks global warming isn’t real at the end of this should take a good hard look at. But if you don’t feel like doing that, I’ll lay out the facts for you right here.
Let’s start off with this: I’m in AP bio right now, and my teacher has told us straight up that we are in the middle of the sixth mass extinction (the last, the 5th, being that of the dinosaurs, to give you an idea). Trends indicate that this is true. Today the extinction rate, at conservative estimates, is 15-100 times higher than it has ever been in a non mass extinction period. This means that hundreds of species die out EACH YEAR. This, along with the shockingly fast rate of global warming (NASA estimates a 1.4 degree Fahrenheit increase since 1880, the industrial revolution), leaves little doubt that the sixth mass extinction is on the brink of occurring (if it isn’t already), having been precipitated by humans.
Now here’s the time for that argument that says that global warming isn’t caused by humans, it’s part of Earth’s natural heating and cooling cycles, blah blah blah. Well, take a look at this cute graph I’ve got below. You’ll notice that for the 1000 years before the industrial revolution, global temperatures were never even close to current ones. You will also notice that global temperature closely correlates to atmospheric CO2 levels. And when did humans start belching out a whole lot of CO2? You guessed it, the industrial revolution. So it seems pretty safe to assume that yes, humans have largely precipitated this bout of global warming.
Now I mentioned above that global temperatures have increased ~1.4 degrees F (0.85 degrees Celsius), since the industrial revolution. This is an important number, but the even more important number is 2 degrees Celsius. 2 degrees Celsius is the number, because scientist estimate that if global temperatures rise higher than this, irreversible damage will have happened to our environment, meaning a huge loss of species diversity, disrupting the food chain, and in the end, screwing us over. Even the loss of a single species could be potentially disastrous to a food web, as many small species, such as plankton, act as keystone species in various food webs, meaning that without them, the whole food web collapses. Yeah bio! In order for this 2 degree C mark to be avoided, carbon emissions need to be majorly cut down. Scientists estimate that if net global carbon emission are at 0 by the year 2100, the 2 degree C mark will be missed and the environment will be able to recover from the thorough beating it has been taking for the past 150 years.
So the question remains, how do we get emissions down to 0 by 2100?
Surprisingly, limiting emissions and fixing our environment could be a fairly easy thing to do if our government was focused on it. We could easily set aside preservations, put in common sense regulation, and invest in research to advance clean energy and even to extract carbon from the atmosphere. But the government isn’t focused on any of these things, which is odd since you would think that protecting the one thing we all have in common, that we live on the same planet, would be a top priority. But it’s not. For comparison, in 2012, the military received 1.2 trillion dollars, while the EPA received 9 billion. Seems like some of that money should go towards protecting our environment instead of being used to make tanks that just sit around..? But that’s an issue for another time. The fact of the matter is, partisanship and lobbyists have hijacked congress, preventing meaningful legislation from being passed. Let’s take a closer look at the role of lobbyists, specifically oil lobbyists, in this process.
Okay so this is the part that’s really confusing: Senate Republicans AND Democrats both admit that global warming is real. However, Republicans seem rather infatuated by this trend where they deny its causation by humans (to them, I would direct further up the page to some good ol’ facts). And let’s be clear: not all Republicans deny human involvement, and vice versa with Democrats. I’m looking at trends here, and the trend is simple, the majority of republicans deny that humans cause global warming, while the majority of Democrats do not. For this reason, my focus will be, but will not be lmited to, Republicans.
Honestly, I don’t even really believe that these guys don’t believe that global warming has been caused by humans. It MUST be some sort of a show. I mean when you look at facts, the truth is simply undeniable. I happen to be an optimist, in that I believe, no, hope, that our elected officials are not in some psychedelic trance from the 60s, and that they know how to open their eyes, but at this point, that’s even doubtful. But let’s assume, for our country’s sake, that our representatives and senators are not under the influence of some hallucinogen, and that they are sane people. In this case, we must assume that their denial of facts is a mere show for some higher purpose (eg. reelection), or that they are truly idiots. The second may be the case, at this point, I really couldn’t tell you.
But let’s riff on that first idea for a hot sec. Why would members of congress need to pretend to not believe in the influence of humans on global warming? Simple. Oil lobbyists. Let’s put it this way: lobbyists and donors run Washington. Here’s Jack Abramoff, notorious lobbyist explaining the whole process:
If you don’t have time to watch that (I get it, this article is long enough), allow me to summarize. Basically, members of Congress spend a lot of time fundraising. Ultimately they get a lot of their money from lobbyists representing companies. Last year Koch Industries alone spent $4,381,714 on lobbying members of Congress. These funds mostly go towards campaigns and courting members of congress, so that when a bill rolls around concerning the lobbyist’s company, said member is forced to support the company in return by getting on their side of the bill. So if a bill were to come before the House say, I don’t know, regulating big oil companies like Koch Industries, all the House members in Koch’s pocket are obliged to not support the bill.
Unsurprisingly, the oil lobby overwhelmingly supports the GOP and conservative groups over Democrats and liberals. While this is certainly a two way-street (Hillary Clinton was the oil lobby’s 5th largest receiver this past year with $307, 561, though far behind top recipient Ted Cruz with $1,015,044) , 90% of the oil lobby’s contributions go to the GOP. In fact the top 5 contributors in the lobby do not spend any money on Democrats at all. (https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=e01).
In order to retain this support, the GOP must protect the oil lobby’s interests, which clash with the regulation of oil companies, preventing environmental reform legislation from passing, preventing environmental change from taking place. The cycle goes on and on.
The inability of the GOP to work against oil lobbyists has led to a staggering lack of environmental protection legislation being passed. In fact, in the past year, only two environmental protection bills have been enacted: S. 611, the Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act, and H.R. 212, the Drinking Water Protection Act. You will notice that neither of these bill have anything to do with carbon emissions, and that both emerged as responses to the Flint water crisis.
So with the Republicans beholden to the oil lobbyists, how can we hope for reduced carbon emissions? How can we prevent the 6th mass extinction from taking place?
I’m not exactly sure. One thing I know is that if our earth matters to you, you shouldn’t be voting for people in the grasp of the oil lobby. Do your research. Realize that your representative DOES matter. Your senator is important. Find out who supports them, and what you support, and vote accordingly. In the meantime, YOU can lobby your representative too. there are currently 217 environmental protection bills sitting in committee. Send a letter to your representative and tell them to support one that matters to you. The good thing is, scientists are working on ways to actually extract carbon from the atmosphere, so that the oil companies can go right on polluting without facing any consequences ever. Yay.
On last thing. To all you politicians in the grasp of the oil lobby, please stop denying that global warming is caused by humans. It is. You might not be around in 60 years when our planet is an absolute wasteland, but I hope to be, so I don’t know how much right exactly you have to dictate its future.
And now for those links you were promised:
http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/ (One from NASA, nice graph!)
A smart smart man from smart smart school verifies my statements.