hear a lot about "global warming" or climate change. Right
now, the United States is setting hundreds of new "coldest
temperature" records. Doesn't that mean global warming is
wrong? It's really hot in Australia right now. New high temperature
records, they say. So does that mean global warming is right?
use global warming and not climate change because the theory is heat
is building up on earth. This is believed to be causing changes in
climate that are not "natural".)
temperatures do not disprove global warming. Hot temperatures do not
prove it is true. Nor do wildfires, drought, or any other weather
variation. Global warming is based on changes in the average
temperature of the planet. What does that mean?
is what you get when you add a group of numbers together and divide
by the number of numbers. Here are two examples:
3 5 2 9 summed(add all) equals 20 then divide by 5: 4
you look at the numbers closely, you will see the numbers are very
different in each set, even though the averages are the same. Which
means you can have really, really different numbers and all give the
same average. Colder in the United States can be cancelled by hotter
in Australia. There are thousands of temperatures involved. This
means scientists really don't know how temperature changes will
happen in a particular place. To make this more complicated,
scientists look at the changes from the average, not the average
itself. All of this is quite complicated and based on math and
models. In reality, things are far from certain, no one really can
predict years and years into the future.
does this all mean in real life? The warming predicted has leveled
off. Over time, the warming could become cooling, but we don't know
this yet. We just do not know.
we having more hurricanes and storms? No, those things are predicted
by the theory. They are not currently happening. In some places,
these weather events have actually decreased.
now, all the global warming is in models and so forth. In reality,
the temperatures have leveled off. Are the dire predictions that
keep being made possible? Of course. It's also possible that cooling
could begin. No one, repeat no one, knows. To be afraid or start
doing drastic things like trying to stop the use of fossil fuels is
to not understand what science tells us.
you're young, you often have to depend on adults to help you
understand how the world works. Grown-ups seem to know everything or
sometimes nothing. What does a smart, rational person (yes, kids,
that means you!) do when someone in authority, older or with more
experience tells you something works a certain way or is a scientific
teachers and parents know important things--like you need to wash
your hands to keep from getting sick. Then you look around and
Derrick over there never washes his hands and is perfectly healthy.
What's up with that? Why isn't Derrick sick? Don't parents and
teachers know anything?
will always be true that there are exceptions to general rules--like
hand-washing. It's believed that over the long run, hand washing
helps prevent the spread of disease. It's based on past experience
and observations. Does this mean everyone who washes their hands
will stay well? No, but based on the way diseases are spread, it is
more likely people who wash hand will be sick less often than those
about more complicated ideas--for example, are we changing our
climate by burning fossil fuels and we are going to cause a very
severe temperature rise on the planet? Your teacher may have told
you "everyone agrees" this is happening. That is not true.
There are many climate scientists who do not agree that our burning
oil and coal and natural gas are threatening our planet. These
things do have an effect, just as everything on the planet affects
everything else. Climate is very complicated. Wait, though, our
president said it's important. Yes, President Obama did say global
warming is real. He also said "We don't have time for a meeting
of the Flat Earth society" which was meant to insult those who
do not agree (we know the earth is not flat so he wanted to make
people who disagreed look foolish). However, it turns out some
members of the Flat Earth society do believe we are changing our
climate with fossil fuels. That shows clearly that there is not
agreement on this and trying to insult others is not really a good
way to convince people you are right.
the climate and global warming also got mixed in with politics, which
is a very bad thing. Science is based on evidence, politics is
mostly based on emotions. So politics is what is out there trying to
make people feel guilty about driving cars and living a modern life.
That's not science.
then, can you know what is science and what is politics? Asking
questions can help. Ask why the fossil fuels hurt the planet. You
may get and answer such as "It's physics". Part of it is,
part of it is computer models and mathematics which are not always
accurate. If when you ask about why fossil fuel burning is bad the
person calls you names (like denier or says you're just stupid) it's
probably because this is something they believe but they don't know
why. Or it could be that the person just doesn't want to be asked
questions on their beliefs--which means this is politics. Science
loves questions and will always take the time to explain.
warming is important we are told and very dangerous. There are all
kinds of scary predictions. Shouldn't we DO something? Shouldn't we
be worried? These are important questions. If fossil fuels really
are hurting the earth, shouldn't we stop using them?
if we did stop using fossil fuels? We would have to give up
full-time electricity, cars, and go back to the old way people lived,
without lights, cell phones, television, computers, etc. It would be
very, very difficult and would harm a lot of people. We know this
harm will happen, while we don't know for sure if CO2 and fossil
fuels are actually going to cause something bad.
about wind and solar? Can't we use those? They have free fuel.
Yes, the fuel is free. The electricity is part-time and only when
nature delivers it, not necessarily when we need it. Making the
turbines and solar panels takes fossil fuels and mining. Then
there's installation and we change the landscape. Plus, both forms
of energy are very damaging to bird and bats. Neither energy source
is practical today--it's why we stopped using such things and went to
a young person who has heard all the scary stories about climate.
How can you know what is true and what is fiction? Honest
answer--you can't. What you can do is sensible things to keep the
earth livable, like not littering, not wasting energy, reuse things
and so forth. There are energy efficient lights, recycling, fuel
efficient cars all of which are fine things to do if it's what you
want to do. Will it save the planet? It's doubtful, both because
these things are very small cuts in usage in the big picture and
because we really don't know the planet is in need of saving. These
are just ideas that make people feel good and do save on clutter and
landfills. Keeping the planet reasonably clean is just a good idea.
you be worried the planet is dying--no. The science is not complete
on what is involved in climate regulation on earth and whether we
humans can really cause massive changes in the climate. It may not
be understood before you have grandchildren. Maybe not ever. Panic
and fear are the wrong responses to changes on the planet. It's also
wrong to burden children with this and very wrong to try and frighten
children into believing that global warming is absolutely true for
political gain. Sadly, that is very often done as you can see in the
news with all the name-calling and insults about those who do not
agree with the global warming science.
should you deal with this? You can be the person who finds a new
efficient power source--one that truly revolutionizes things. You
could be the one that does what Henry Ford did and takes us to a new
way of traveling (I still want flying cars! Maybe you could be the
one that creates one!) Maybe you could do like Edison and find a new
way to make light (LEDs are a good start). What the planet needs is
smart, curious people who try to make life better, not someone
preaching fear and doom while demanding people go backward in their
living conditions. Ask questions, study science and math. Learn how
things work and take us to a better future. That's what you can do!
Seven years ago, the Aldara banded snail was declared extinct. It was said to have gone extinct due to climate change. Reports said it was one of the first species to have been lost to climate change. The theory was that declining rainfall on their atoll had caused the snails all to die out.
Once again, nature proved to be much more capable of handling change than some scientists believe it can. The small snail was found by a team of researchers.
Many news articles say climate change is still a threat to these snails. It's so sad that humans can't celebrate the tough little snail instead of worrying about its future. Nature is so remarkable and fascinating. Enjoy it.