Global Warming: When science fails to convince, can kitty sneezes carry the day?

Don Clarke’s CJ article “For those who worship climate change”, Thu Oct 16, 2014, and Herman Dost’s “Nothing we can do about climate change”, Mon Oct 20, 2014 make me resort to metaphor.

Had they taken the time to read the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report , or even the Summary, I don’t believe they would have made such comment.

Yes, the earth does go through cycles of warming and cooling. These typically develop over thousands, tens of thousands, or even millions of years and yes, there are aberrations like the 700-year-old medieval blip.

However, industrial, fossil-burning humankind is relatively new on the climate horizon, and therein lies the rub. What used to take eons to develop is now occurring in a matter of a couple of centuries, leaving us with the spectre of adapting, evolving if you like, without the cushion of time. Scientists tell us man is to blame.

When 679 of the world’s top scientists (98%) across many disciplines, citing 12,000 reports, tell us that the activities of man are accelerating normal climate warming to a level that will take us well beyond our ability to cope, it behooves us to pay attention. If 98 doctors who care about your health and well-being say you have a life-threatening disease, and time is of the essence, do you act on that advice, or do you go with the 99th who says it just possibly may not be the case?

The earth’s biosphere, that thin onion-skin that gives us life has a disease. It’s called humanity, and we need to treat it quickly.

Fact: NASA Climatologist James Hansen explained the current rate of increase in global warming is equivalent to exploding 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day, 365 days per year. That’s how much extra heat energy Earth is gaining each day from the activities of man alone, never mind sunspots.

For those who prefer a cuddlier metaphor, John Cook at the American Geophysical Union translated this fact to 7.4 quadrillion kitty sneezes per second.

How can that much heat not translate into man-made global warming?

The IPCC report says we have 15 years to change our trajectory from greater to less use of fossil fuels, the main contributor to global warming, and that 80% of existing fossil reserves must stay in the ground if our grandkids are to inherit a tolerable atmosphere.

Oops! I’ve regressed into science again.

Back to metaphor. I do love kitty sneezes. But 7.4 quadrillion all at once?

Scott Harris

Published as “Believe 98 Doctors, or Count on the 99th” in The Chronicle-Journal Saturday, October 25, 2014