Confronting climate change might seem as if it is of tremendous importance, which it obviously can be, and it is common for people around the globe to be worried about the problem of a changing climate. It is natural to ponder what role the federal government should have as well as how important the leadership is in the matter. Thus, it is also important to look at the facts about climate change.
The start of climate change
The question, “When did the climate start changing?” is appropriate here. The answer is that climate change has been going on since there was an atmosphere dense enough to contain a climate, probably about 4 1/2 billion years. That is 4,500,000,000 years, give or take, because scientists aren’t certain how long Earth has had an atmosphere.
During most of the history of the earth, there haven’t been ice caps, in fact. Most eras have been hotter than they are now, for instance during the carboniferous, which lasted millions of years. This becomes important when it is remembered that modern man has only been around a few tens of thousands of years, and the industrial age has been far less than this.
Very few people argue the point that carbon dioxide, methane and water vapor have the ability to change the climate. However, man is not the major producers of these, and this is important to the discussion, as will be seen. Volcanoes and major forest fires produce many times more carbon dioxide and water vapor than man does.
It is likely that with volcanoes erupting at the rate of 11-13 per year, and the great number of forest fires that burn each year, it would be a stretch to think that man could even produce as many greenhouse gases as nature produces in any given year, even if all people tried to produce as many as they could.
Yet, common thought is that man is somehow the cause of the processes that have being going on for millions of years, long before people even entered the picture and that will probably continue long after man is gone.
It is also worth pointing out that carbon dioxide isn’t ‘the’ major greenhouse gas and that it accounts for about three hundredths of a single percent of our atmosphere. If this gas was increased by 25 percent due to the activities of man, CO2 would still account for well less than five hundredths of a percent. Water vapor is the greatest greenhouse gas by volume and weight, and without water vapor, life would have a hard time surviving.
In other words, there would need to be far more than 2000 times more carbon dioxide to even account for 1 percent of the atmosphere, even assuming a 25 percent increase. This is one reason so many scientists reject the idea of man-caused global warming due to carbon dioxide increases created by man.
The role of man in climate change
There is little doubt that humans are major polluters. They can and often do pollute the land, air and water. They also tend to do this until leadership and laws create a situation where it is worthwhile to stop polluting and to conserve whenever possible. However, this has little direct effect on the climate, while still being of tremendous importance.
The fact that man has little proven impact on the climate and climate change means that the leadership has recently been focused on the wrong thing. A federal government isn’t likely to do much to stop a process that has been going on for billions of years before homo sapiens first developed. They can and should find ways to lessen the propensity to pollute, however.
Many people have become more environmentally aware over the last half century. This has allowed for some of the strictest environmental pollutant controls that have ever been seen in the United States, as well as worldwide, supported by the people of the individual nations.
Again, though this is a good thing, it isn’t because of climate change, which man cannot control. It is because we all breathe the same air, the soil grows crops that feed most people and animals and water is a needed substance for survival.
It makes no sense to foul any of these, not from the aspect of how it affects the climate, but how it affects health. People have understood this for decades, especially in developed countries like the U.S. and this has led to an increase in recycling of all sorts as well as wide-spread acceptance and support of pollution regulations.
Leadership’s role in climate change
To garner support and to achieve more solidarity among the people, there is definitely an important role for active leadership of the federal government in regard to climate change. It wouldn’t be easy to do, but the first step would be for the federal government to admit that man isn’t changing the climate, except in a very local sense, and that at most, he can only try to prevent his own activities from accelerating the process, globally.
Secondly, the federal government should begin to focus more openly on the immediate problems of pollution. Telling the people that pollution control legislation is for something it is not doesn’t gather support.
There is still an enormous amount of knowledge that mankind lacks regarding our climate and climate change. It is worthwhile to understand that climate is the weather in an area, averaged over time. Considering how relatively recently we’ve had accurate global weather reading, with some areas still not covered, it is no surprise that what we don’t know outweighs what we do know in regard to climate.
Too often, suppositions are made and accepted without a solid factual base. That does little good. If federal leadership then supports it, they can easily be made to look foolish when more information comes to light. When people find out that the data has been tampered with and guessed at in order to support a non-existent global warming crisis, even more credibility is lost.
On the other hand, if the same leadership gives incentives for such things as waste cleanup and recycling, to correct the issue of pollution which most people seem to understand, they can gain more support from the population and aren’t as apt to look silly.
Climate change can be confronted without active leadership on the part of the federal government simply by admitting that only arrogance permits mankind to think that he is more powerful than mother nature. Man can’t prevent global climate change, regardless of the leadership in place and the actions it takes.
Clearly explaining this would mean that the leadership could honestly focus on things that have a lot more import and which man does have the ability to control, such as man-caused pollution.