Climate Change, an Overview

Don Wyeth

Climate Change, an Overview

2 mins
December 7, 2021

There have been hundreds if not thousands of reports and papers written regarding the origins of climate change and its impact on our lives. Understanding the issues can be rather daunting. In my view, the best thing we can do is go with information that comes from peer-reviewed science. Peer-reviewed science works like this: 1) Scientists study a phenomenon like climate change. 2) Scientists write a report about the results of the study. 3) An editor of a journal such as The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, sends the article out for review by the scientists’ peers [other scientists]. 4) Then the scientists’ peers send feedback to the editor of the journal. 5) If the article meets peer and editorial standards it is published. One of the must-haves of this process requires that the results of the study can be reproduced by others investigating the same phenomenon.

The phenomenon has been around long enough to earn its own definition. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “…a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth's atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and other pollutants.” Currently, most credentialed scientists, based on their research and field work, place the cause of the change squarely on the shoulders of industry and the consequent evolution of modern lifestyle of First World countries. However, there are some outliers that still claim that these changes are not severe, pointing to other causes having a natural origin. But although natural factors do contribute to the issue does not explain away the impact that human beings are having on the planet. These naysayers rarely use factual data and information to back up their statements.

It is a well-documented fact that greenhouse gases are contributing to the intensity of the effects of climate change. Unstable levels of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere cause the temperature of the lower levels of our atmosphere to warm. 

The population of the world is increasing geometrically. “Global human population growth amounts to around 83 million annually, or 1.1% per year. The global population has grown from 1 billion in 1800 to 7.9 billion in 2020.” United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. This increase has in turn contributed to the deforestation of the planet. Additionally, carbon dioxide and methane produced by industry also play a part. This vicious cycle is already having an impact on the world food supplies according to the UN. In the case of methane, previously trapped in the frozen tundra, it is released into the atmosphere. This causes the generation of a feedback loop, which further exacerbates the problem. More melting produces more methane, which consequently causes more melting, etc.

So, what is it that we can hope in regard to climate change? “The solution is understanding the difference between the word that in the word to. When we say we hope that” something will happen, it doesnt have any action component: I hope that Ill win the lottery. When we use the expression hope to,” on the other hand, it typically includes an action component: I hope to plant my garden in early May.” psychologytoday.com. It is up to us as a species and as individuals to do something now… actions speak louder than words.

This article was orginally reported by
Don Wyeth

Passionate and intelligent columnist from Madison, WI.