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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Science and the spirit of inquiry are inextricably tied. They are meant to work together to uncover the place where elementary and indisputable truths meet. As citizens of the earth, humanity, and finally our countries and nation states it is imperative that we become well versed in these issues and compile strategic answers to the most vexing questions of our time.
Scientific inquiry and investigation seek to make us critical thinkers with an arsenal of answers at our fingers tips. Here is a list of frequently asked questions and fast facts pertaining to climate change, climate science, and related issues. Use the accordion menu below to expand and collapse questions and answers.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS RELATED TO CLIMATE CHANGE
Q1: What is the evidence that climate change is happening?
According to Wikipedia climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time impacted by anthropogenic causes. Climate change is often treated as a political issue, but it shouldn’t be. The climate on the planet is changing unlike anytime seen in the natural fluctuations shown across geological records, and scientists have overwhelmingly connected this global warming to human activity. Factually, we know that CO2 levels have not been this high in 800,000 years of paleoclimatology records. Humans did not exist at that time. There are nine lines of evidence that prove we are undergoing climate change now and that it was triggered by human activity:
1) Simple chemistry – when we burn carbon-based materials, carbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted (research beginning in 1900s)
2) Basic accounting of what we burn, and therefore how much CO2 we emit (data collection beginning in 1970s)
3) Measuring CO2 in the atmosphere and trapped in ice to find that it’s increasing, with levels higher than anything we’ve seen in hundreds of thousands of years (measurements beginning in 1950s)
4) Chemical analysis of the atmospheric CO2 that reveals the increase is coming from burning fossil fuels (research beginning in 1950s)
5) Basic physics that shows us that CO2 absorbs heat (research beginning in 1820s)
6) Monitoring climate conditions to find that recent warming of the Earth is correlated to and follows rising CO2 emissions (research beginning in 1930s)
7) Ruling out natural factors that can influence climate like the sun and ocean cycles (research beginning in 1830s)
8) Employing computer models to run experiments of natural versus human-influenced simulations of Earth (research beginning in 1960s)
9) Consensus among scientists who consider all previous lines of evidence and make their own conclusions (polling beginning in 1990s)
Q2: How long do we have to act?
The latest IPCC report, widely considered the mainstream standard, gives us 10-12 years to respond to the climate crisis. Many other reports still give 2100 as a time frame. However, most scientists are now sounding the alarm and reporting that this 10-12 year time frame is dangerously incorrect and that things are unraveling much faster than expected. Additionally, many other scientists have given us even less time. Eminent scientist and polar explorer, Peter Wadhams, has said that we will likely see an ice free arctic within the next several years or sooner. This is sometimes called a Blue Ocean Event-BOE (video) and it comes fraught with many significant implications on the climate system. Scientists have reached consensus that the sixth mass extinction is well underway. The time to act is now.
“It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today. And yet the swelling seas — and the cities they will drown — have so dominated the picture of global warming, and so overwhelmed our capacity for climate panic, that they have occluded our perception of other threats, many much closer at hand. Rising oceans are bad, in fact very bad; but fleeing the coastline will not be enough.” – The Intelligencer
Q3: Is it too late to do anything about it?
As we know the stressors discussed here on the SW website are making large impacts on planetary boundaries and moving us beyond tipping points in many cases. Scientists have already said that we have surpassed the carbon tipping point for example. However, according to eminent climate scientist Michael Mann “‘we can still prevent many of the worst impacts of climate change from playing out”. Still others are saying we can maintain hope, as long as it’s wise hope. Scientific consensus has already concluded that the situation is dire and that time is now extremely limited to tackle this planetary crisis. The latest IPCC report recently gave humanity only 10-12 years. It is paramount to review these topics with urgency. Robert Burrowes recently wrote “it is going to be a tough fight for human survival, particularly this late in the ‘game’. Nevertheless, I intend to fight until my last breath. I hope that you will too.“
Q4: How does it impact me personally?
“There are two problems with climate change…One, it’s going to melt the earth and destroy civilization and two, nobody listens, and nobody cares because they still think it won’t affect them.” – Global Citizen
Climate change may seem like an abstract concept to many of us. Additionally, the cognitive dissonance surrounding it is extreme because humans have difficulty thinking exponentially about the changes we now face. Also, we tend to like to think that only scientists, politicians and victims in remote regions are concerned with climate change.
However, we can now increasingly see the effects of climate change on our daily lives, influencing everything from our health and the weather to who will insure our homes and businesses, to food prices, and worse food shortages, to the number of fires, droughts, and large storms like typhoons, hurricanes, tsunamis, and thus climate refugees that we are seeing. National Geographic lists of 5 ways that climate change will affect us all.
>> More Climate Change Related FAQs:
- EESI Global Warming FAQ
- EPA Climate Change FAQ
- Guardian Ultimate Climate Change FAQ
- NASA (FAQ) | Facts – Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet
- National Climate Assessment | FAQS
- Nature Conservancy FAQ
- NOAA Global Warming FAQ
- NYTIMES Climate FAQ
- 10:00 am Feb. 9, 2019 – Charles Gregoire – (Added history panel and deleted associated history page. Commented out the Q1-Q4 anchor links as the seem to be causing a problem with the accordion when being click on).
- 5:45 pm Dec. 19, 2018 – Shani Cairns – (Added FAQ accordion menu with some initial top questions and links to other CC FAQs).
- 5:45 pm Dec. 19, 2018 – Shani Cairns – (Added FAQ and associated “History” page with a brief introduction).
Note: This page is in a very early draft stage and as with many wiki pages, it is a work in progress. It aims to inform the reader of the frequently asked questions related to climate change and related issues. SW is always expanding the list of FAQs for the site and you can contribute. If you have a question please leave it in the comments below.