On the Issues–Climate Change

“A skeptic will question claims, then embrace the evidence. A denier will question claims, then reject the evidence.” (Neil deGrasse Tyson)

Skepticism is simply carrying an attitude of questioning, but there are many levels of skepticism. Think of it as a spectrum; on one side we have blindly following authority, while the other side boasts a denial of reality and a refusal to accept said reality. Unhealthy skepticism, which is synonymous with denial, occurs when you hold to your beliefs or views in the face of empirical evidence, logic, reason, and informed dialogue. Like our friend Neil deGrasse Tyson stated, skeptics question claims and the embrace the evidence while deniers succeed at the former but fail at the latter. Throughout this article, I hope to convey to the readers the fact that those who deny the reality of human-induced climate change are, in fact, denialists instead of skeptics.

Has anyone ever approached you and asked, “Do you believe in climate change?” Seems like a logical question, right? How about this one: “Do you believe that the earth revolves around the sun?” Or, lastly, “do you believe that pathogens cause illnesses?” You see, science and empirical evidence aren’t things in which you believe. You either accept the incontrovertible, empirical, and  scientific evidence behind a certain phenomenon, or you deny it. We don’t “believe” in climate change, we don’t “believe” that the earth is revolving around the sun, and we don’t “believe” that pathogens cause illnesses. We can know these things through the scientific method, observation, measurement, and experiment. As you read this article, I hope it becomes evident that human-induced climate change is a pressing threat that needs to be dealt with.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a doom-sayer, and I do not think climate change is currently the most pressing threat that our country is facing. That bitter reward goes to radical Islamic terrorism. And, yes, you can definitely be a true conservative and embrace science. I am a true constitutional conservative, in fact. However, climate change is a very important issue, and we really need to act on it in a positive way instead of turning our backs.

Our planet will likely be here for millions if not billions of more years. Even if climate change was not occurring presently, why would anyone be against trying to preserve and protect it? If we continue to use fossil fuels indefinitely, it will just get worse and worse, and nobody can deny that.

Why do people deny climate change?

Denial of Climate change mainly stems from a political ideology of a thriving free market, free enterprise, capitalism, and of a small and limited government. But let’s take a step back, because this connection may not be evident to our conservative readers. Conservatism is all about the constitution, free market capitalism, traditional values, and a limited government. Liberalism is about being progressive, pushing for a large and controlling government, and a larger focus on the poor through democratic socialism. Therefore, conservatives will do everything in their power to keep the government off their backs and out of their industries, but it’s done at the expense of our own planet. But let’s step back even further.

Democrats and liberals, because of their views on how the government should work, always want to push for regulations. However, conservatives oppose these because they are usually unconstitutional and are thought to attack the free market. So let’s say we observe a phenomenon in the world, such as climate change, and we have to propose a solution. Because the left typically possesses more political power (and because they tend to belittle and diminish the right), they are the ones who propose solutions to these problems most often. And what’s their solution to climate change? Regulations, more regulations, and some more regulations. And what do conservatives despise? Regulations on the free market. In case you haven’t already put two and two together, this is the main reason conservatives deny the reality of climate change; they oppose the solution to an evidence-based problem. Conservatives notice that climate change could potentially threaten the free market (which is true), so they attack the very source of the problem and ardently strive to undermine it; climate change itself. But I urge conservatives to embrace the evidence behind human-induced climate change because there are solutions that do not pose as threats to the free market—there is no need for the laborious and troublesome regulations of the left. We need to get out of the mindset that conservatives HAVE to deny climate change because the only way we will make progress is if we all truly come to grips with reality.

Climate change denial comes in a variety of flavors, as well; some say it is happening and that it is human-induced, but there is nothing about which to worry. Some people think the climate is warming (which it is) but it’s simply a natural occurrence (the evidence suggests strongly that it’s human-induced), and lastly, some people go so far as to say that the United States government has tampered with the data to push a secret agenda to control the free market and its citizens. All of these flavors will be digested in the future portions of this article. We will also evaluate (debunk) the validity a noted climate denier’s (Malcolm Roberts) main arguments.

Lastly, I urge you to see the absurdities of climate denial. Why would scientists maliciously conspire together to preserve the Earth’s wildlife and provide cleaner air and safer water? Even if Climate change were a hoax, which it’s not, why would anyone oppose making our planet a better place instead of pouring out excessive amounts of unhealthy gas and pollution? These scientists are pushing for energy independence, rainforest preservation, sustainability, green jobs, safe, supportive and livable cities, renewable energy, clean water and air, and a healthy population. This carries a lot of credence when taking climate change denial into account.

Flavors of Climate Denial

“It is happening and that it is human-induced, but there is nothing about which to worry.”

This is simply absurd. If our safety and well-being are at risk, we most definitely need to work towards a solution. No further explanation is needed.

“The climate is warming, but it’s simply a natural occurrence.”

Although the former part of this is in line with the empirical evidence, it fails to acknowledge the fact that it is human-caused. As you will see in the later parts of this post, I will provide evidence supporting the fact that climate change is veritably and undeniably human-induced.

“The United States government has tampered with the data to push a secret agenda to control the free market and its citizens.”

For me, this is the most preposterous of all. Here is what you would have to accept to have this view:

Hundreds of scientists from a number of different countries collect climate data, and I will simply use one example from 2009 to illustrate this point.

“The 2009 State of the Climate report served as a basis for the poster and this website. This report draws on data for 10 key climate indicators that all point to the same finding: the scientific evidence that our world is warming is unmistakable. More than 300 scientists from 160 research groups in 48 countries contributed to the report, which confirms that the past decade was the warmest on record and that the Earth has been growing warmer over the last 50 years.

This set of indicators was selected, as we would unambiguously expect them to increase or decrease if the world were warming. In a warming world, based upon simple physical principles we would expect some indicators to increase land surface air temperature, sea-surface temperature, marine air temperature, sea level, tropospheric temperature, ocean heat content and specific humidity.

Conversely, we would expect the following indicators to decline: snow cover, sea-ice extent, glacier mass, and stratospheric temperatures. Stratospheric temperature decline is also influenced by ozone depletion.

Click here for a 10 page summary or full supplemental package.” (NOAA, Ten Signs of a Warming World)

No, this is not the evidence I will present (even though it IS evidence for climate change). The main thing I want you to get out of this is that more than 300 scientists from 48 different countries collected data in 160 research groups, and they all came to the same conclusion: the earth is warming. But what’s my point here?

In order to fulfill this flavor of climate denial, you would have to believe, on no evidence whatsoever, that all these hundreds (tens of thousands, really) of scientists all conspire together to manipulate evidence so that the United States government can put regulations on the free market. If that’s not preposterous enough, think about the fact that a majority of these scientists live in other parts of the world, speak different languages, and operate under different governments… so why (and how?) on earth would they conspire to manipulate the evidence for the United States government?

Now, let’s look at some different flavors.

Malcolm Roberts, Australian senator (All of these are credit of ABC.net, Hack, by Stephen Stockwell– http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/how-climate-scientists-respond-to-malcolm-roberts/7701900)

“Malcolm Roberts: “We’ve had no warming at all according to NASA’s science satellites since 1995. That’s 21 years.”

John Cook says this claim is a bit more complicated, but it still doesn’t fly.

“One of the challenges there is [satellites] are looking through many layers and the upper part of the atmosphere is actually cooling and that’s one of the consequence of greenhouse warming.

“Satellites measure heat as it escapes to space, and what satellites over the last number of decades have found is less heat escaping out to space at the wavelengths where CO2 traps heat, so this is direct empirical evidence that CO2 traps heat.”” (ABC)

Here, we see Roberts distorting facts, and he is simply wrong. Let’s look at another one of his arguments.

Malcolm Roberts: “The empirical evidence showed the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere changed as a result of temperature changes, not as a cause of temperature changes.”

Let’s use Cape Grim in Tasmania as an example for this one, the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology have a climate monitoring station there which has seen levels of carbon in the atmosphere rise from around 300 parts per million in 1976 to 400 parts per million in May this year.

UNSW’s Steve Sherwood told Hack this statement would have been nearly correct during the glacial ice age some thousands of years ago, for which there is evidence CO2 affected temperature, and the temperature affected CO2.

“But that was a special case of that era in the geologic record,” Steve Sherwood said.

“Today it is very clear humans are increasing CO2 and CO2 is increasing temperatures.”” (ABC)

Lastly, one commonly cited “evidence” against global warming is a noted climate denier’s blog, called Climate Depot, who claims that there have been some 19 years with no global warming. But let’s take a look at this. First, let’s look at the source. We have NASA, the organization that landed our species on the moon, and a noted climate denier. Now, let’s look at the data. NASA has evidence from evaluating CO2 levels in ice cores from hundreds of thousands of years. NASA also has temperature records that date back to the early 1800s. The climate denier on Climate Depot has data collected from around 19 years. Lastly, NASA has a myriad of satellites and ways of collecting data (which all show that the planet is warming at an alarming rate), while the man on Climate Depot blog used only data from a very specific source that is very limited in its capabilities. Hopefully, you see the problem with this climate change denial argument.

Finally, a former climate change denier from CNN (Chad Meyers), writes: “2010 was a turning point for me. That year was the hottest year on record, even though there was a La Niña present, a process that should have cooled the planet.

Down went the other potential causes:

There were no volcanoes producing huge amounts of CO2.

The sun was not getting hotter.

Satellite-derived temperature readings ruled out the heat-island effect.

Even “The Pause” (the so-called period post-1998 that showed very little warming of the planet for about 15 years) had been shattered.” (CNN)

Lastly, we look at one of the biggest science deniers in current politics (he thinks vaccines cause autism and denies climate change–Quartz), Donald Trump.

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” (Donald Trump, twitter)

Yes, he seriously thinks the Chinese created global warming, despite the fact that NASA and the NOAA are American organizations. I’ll just leave it at that.

Simple Logic

Aside from empirical evidence, there is a logical syllogism that can easily summarize global warming:

  1. Humans are pumping out billions of tons of CO2 (carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere every single year
  2. CO2 is greenhouse gas that traps heat in the Earth’s atmosphere (basic fourth-grade science)
  3. Greenhouse gases warm the Earth’s surface and therefore account for global warming (Greenhouse Effect, trapped heat from the sun)
  4. Therefore, humans immensely contribute to global warming (from1,2, and 3)

The climate denial argument is looking grim at this moment, and we still haven’t arrived at the incontrovertible, testable, and observable evidence.

  1. Humans are pumping out billions of tons of CO2 (carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere every single year

In the year 2014, carbon emissions on the globe reached about 39.8 billion tons, and it’s only been growing since. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2764323/China-US-India-push-world-carbon-emissions-up.html) Even climate change deniers accept that we are pumping out billions of tons of CO2. These emissions come from a variety of places: cars, industries, houses, volcanoes, humans and animals themselves, etc. A large fraction of these emissions can easily be traced to artificial human activities, such as large businesses and industries all over the world, car emissions, and way more.

  1. CO2 is greenhouse gas that traps heat in the Earth’s atmosphere (basic fourth grade science) +
  2. Greenhouse gases warm the Earth’s surface and therefore account for global warming (Greenhouse Effect, trapped heat from the sun)

Almost all of us learned this in fourth grade, and it can easily be observed and tested through the scientific method. CO2 traps the sun’s heat and is therefore deemed a “greenhouse gas”. A warming climate would ensue if levels of CO2 increased. Another piece of evidence for the greenhouse effect is Venus. Venus’ surface temperature is an average 864 degrees Fahrenheit, and this is because of a runaway greenhouse gas effect through CO2. There are massive amounts od evidence that support this. (space.com)

And now, all we have left is our conclusion, which follows soundly from our premises.

  1. Therefore, humans immensely contribute to global warming (from1,2, and 3)

Climate Change—The Evidence

Now, we’re into the juicy stuff… or should I say the rather depressing and disconcerting statistics of how greed is ruining our very own planet? Here, we will address the evidence itself, collected from thousands of scientists who speak different languages from different countries under different governments (which would make it practically impossible and logically untenable to think that they are conspiring together maliciously to control the United States’ free market to push a secret agenda).

CO2 levels


(Credit: NASA and NOAA–http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/carbon-dioxide/)


(Credit—NOAA and CNN–http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/24/opinions/chad-myers-climate-change-weather/)


(Credit: NASA and NOAA–http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/carbon-dioxide/ — Credit: Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record.)

Carbon dioxide levels have undeniably gone up due to human activity. It cannot simply be a “natural occurrence” if we have suddenly and rapidly increased atmospheric CO2 levels at an alarming and unprecedented rate (never seen before). And it definitely is not a coincidence that the increase in atmospheric CO2 occurs right after the industrial revolution and has continued to worsen ever since—and this is exactly what one would expect.

Some people say this is not a big leap; however, this is simply erroneous. In fact, in 1958, as recorded by the NOAA, the average atmospheric CO2 level was 315.71 parts per million. It has been steadily increasing ever since, and it now sits at 404.39 parts per million. Do the math, and you will find that that is nearly a 30 percent increase (about 28.1 percent) in atmospheric CO2! (Data here: ftp://aftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/products/trends/co2/co2_mm_mlo.txt and here: http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/)

Global Temperatures

“All three major global surface temperature reconstructions show that Earth has warmed since 1880.5 Most of this warming has occurred since the 1970s, with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years.6 Even though the 2000s witnessed a solar output decline resulting in an unusually deep solar minimum in 2007-2009, surface temperatures continue to increase.7 ” (NASA)


(NASA http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/)


(NASA/GISS http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/)


(GISTEMP http://www.popsci.com/this-july-was-warmest-month-ever-recorded)

In fact, this past July was the hottest month in recorded history according to NASA and the NOAA. (Popular Science)

“This news marks the 15th consecutive month that the monthly average temperatures have broken records, making it virtually certain that 2016 will be the hottest year since 2015, which broke the record set by 2014. We just keep getting hotter.” (Popular Science)

But wait… it gets worse.

“July 2016 was the 379th consecutive month with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average. The last month with temperatures below the 20th century average was December 1984 (-0.09°C / -0.16°F).” (NOAA)

Rising sea level

“Core samples, tide gauge readings, and, most recently, satellite measurements tell us that over the past century, the Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL) has risen by 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters). However, the annual rate of rise over the past 20 years has been 0.13 inches (3.2 millimeters) a year, roughly twice the average speed of the preceding 80 years.” (National Geographic)

The rise in sea level is linked to three main causes, namely thermal expansion, melting of both ice caps and glaciers, and, lastly, ice loss from Greenland and West Antarctica. (National Geographic)


(Credit: NASA and CSIRO– http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/sea-level/)


(Credit: NASA and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center–http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/sea-level/)

Melting ice caps


(Credit: NASA and NSIDC–http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/arctic-sea-ice/)

“Arctic sea ice reaches its minimum each September. September Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 13.4 percent per decade, relative to the 1981 to 2010 average. This graph shows the average monthly Arctic sea ice extent in September since 1979, derived from satellite observations.” (NASA)

Species evolving in response

There is a large number of species that have evolved and adapted in response to rising temperature and CO2 levels, and I will outline some here.

First, there are table corals. Table corals are very sensitive to temperature changes, and when ocean temperatures rise, bleaching (when they spit out colorful algae that were part of their tissue) can occur to them.

“According to an April study, table corals (Acropora hyacinthus) can adapt to resist bleaching in warmer waters. On Ofu Island in American Samoa, A. hyacinthus lives in both hot and cool pools. In the lab, researchers tested corals from both environments to see how they reacted to increased heat. They found that only 20 percent of corals from the hot pools bleached, compared to 55 percent from the cool pools.” (Smithsonian)

Second, we have Thyme. Due to warmer winters, “one study found an increase in the proportion of plants that produce phenolic compounds.” This increase compared 1974 levels to 2010 levels, and this was due to warmer winters in their ecosystem linked to global warming. (Smithsonian)

Third, we have pink salmon. Scientists looked at migratory data and genetic data that covered a span of 32 years.

“The team found that between 1983 and 2011, the frequency of a genetic marker for late migration dropped significantly. By 2011, late migrating fish only made up about 10 percent of the population. Over that same time period, the local water temperature has increased by about one degree Celsius on average, an uptick that’s linked to climate change. The researchers argue that earlier migrating fish are better fit to handle warmer waters.” (Smithsonian)

Next up on the list, we have Tawny Owls, who have seen a shift in allele frequency to brown colored instead of other colors.

“With milder winters in Finland, one population of tawny owls showed a significant uptick in brown-plumed owls over the last 28 years, according to a 2011 Nature Communications study. The researchers also saw a nationwide increase in brown owls over the last 48 years. It makes sense that natural selection might favor brown coloration: With less snow, brown owls are better at blending in with the surrounding forest, giving those birds a better chance to survive and reproduce.” (Smithsonian)

There are many more (various species of mosquitoes, squirrels, birds, fish, and more), but I will simply conclude with two more examples. The first one is rewarded to Banded Snails.

“For banded snails (Cepaea nemoralis), shell coloration is determined not only by genes, but also by body temperature: Snails with light shells tend to be cooler customers. Scientists suspect that warmer temperatures in Europe might make the lighter coloration become more prevalent. One study published in Global Change Biology found that banded snail populations sampled at 16 sites in the Netherlands in 1967 and again in 2010 had an increasing proportion of yellow shells compared to brown ones. Over 43 years, the area has also seen a 1.5° to 2°F increase in annual temperature. The trend even held for shaded areas, where one might expect darker shells to provide better camouflage.” (Smithsonian)


And, finally, according to a very recent University of Southampton study, “Plants are adapting to increasing atmospheric CO2 according to a new study. The research provides insight into the long-term impacts of rising CO2 and the implications for global food security and nature conservation.” (Science Daily)

And now I pose two very important questions: why would species evolve in response to something that doesn’t exist? And to those who think that the government is fabricating data, how could they possibly fabricate the evolution of species?

Stay tuned here at Liberty and Logic, because, within the upcoming weeks, we will tackle more problems with science in politics, why climate change is a pressing issue, and we will also tackle how we should deal with it. We will probably also have a rebuttal to my arguments from the other head of Liberty and Logic Blog, James Kurlich.

Author: Joe Schmid

Questions? Ask away at josephschmid4@gmail.com

Works Cited

Redd, Nola Taylor. “How Hot Is Venus?” Space.com. Purch, 16 Nov. 2012. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://www.space.com/18526-venus-temperature.html&gt;.

University of Southampton. “Molecular signature shows plants are adapting to increasing atmospheric CO2.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 August 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160824110910.htm>.

Thompson, Helen. “Ten Species That Are Evolving Due to the Changing Climate.” Smithsonian Magazine. Smithsonian, 24 Oct. 2014. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/ten-species-are-evolving-due-changing-climate-180953133/?no-ist&gt;.

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Global Analysis for July 2016, published online August 2016, retrieved on September 8, 2016 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/201607.

“What’s REALLY Warming the Earth?” YouTube. PBS–It’s Okay To Be Smart, 29 Aug. 2016. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <https://youtu.be/hphdsLcSTYQ&gt;.

“Surveys of Scientists’ Views on Climate Change.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveys_of_scientists%27_views_on_climate_change&gt;.

“Yes, There Is a Strong Consensus on Climate Change.” The Logic of Science. WordPress.com, 8 Sept. 2015. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <https://thelogicofscience.com/2015/09/08/yes-there-is-a-strong-consensus-on-climate-change/&gt;.

Kar, Ian. “Scientific American Slams Donald Trump’s Anti-science Rhetoric in a Rare Op-ed.” Quartz. WordPress.com, 20 Aug. 2016. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://qz.com/762754/scientific-american-slams-donald-trumps-anti-science-rhetoric-in-a-rare-op-ed/&gt;.

Trump, Donald J. (@realDonaldTrump) “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” 06 Nov. 2012. Tweet.

MailOnline, Ellie Zolfagharifard for. “Carbon Emissions Reach 40 Billion Ton High: World Faces ‘dangerous Climate Change’ – and China, the US and India Are the Worst Offenders.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 22 Sept. 2014. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2764323/China-US-India-push-world-carbon-emissions-up.html&gt;.

Meyers, Chad. “Changing Opinions on Climate Change.” CNN. Cable News Network, 25 Aug. 2016. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/24/opinions/chad-myers-climate-change-weather/&gt;.

“Arctic Sea Ice Minimum.” NASA. NASA, n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/arctic-sea-ice/&gt;.

“NOAA’s Ten Signs of a Warming World.” NOAA’s Ten Signs of a Warming World. NOAA, n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://cpo.noaa.gov/warmingworld/&gt;.

deGrasse Tyson, Neil. (@neiltyson) “A skeptic will question claims, then embrace the evidence. A denier will question claims, then reject the evidence.” 16 May. 2016. Tweet.

Griggs, Mary Beth. “Last Month Was The Warmest Month Ever Recorded.” Popular Science. Bonnier Corporation, 17 Aug. 2016. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://www.popsci.com/this-july-was-warmest-month-ever-recorded&gt;.

@scienmag. “2016 Climate Trends Continue to Break Records – Scienmag.” Scienmag. Scienmag, 19 July 2016. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://scienmag.com/2016-climate-trends-continue-to-break-records/&gt;.

Society, National Geographic. “Sea Level Rise — National Geographic.” National Geographic. National Geographic, n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/critical-issues-sea-level-rise/&gt;.

Stockwell, Journalist Stephen. “How Climate Scientists Respond to Malcolm Roberts.” Triple J. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 08 Aug. 2016. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/how-climate-scientists-respond-to-malcolm-roberts/7701900&gt;.

“National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA, n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://www.noaa.gov/&gt;.

“Climate.NASA.” NASA. NASA, 1 Sept. 2016. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://climate.nasa.gov/&gt;.

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