So I went looking for data on climate change. I started with a few key questions. The first question is "Is climate change a reality?" The second question is "If climate change is a reality, is human activity the primary cause?" The third question is "If climate change is a reality, and if human activity is a primary cause, is it something to be concerned about?"
The answer to the first question appears to be a pretty clear yes, based on information I found on the websites from climate.nasa.gov (from NASA), http://www.climate.gov (from NOAA - the National Oceanic and Aeronautic Administration) and from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report (http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/report/WG1AR5_SPM_FINAL.pdf). If you want to look for yourself the NASA site is easier to read and has the best graphics, particularly on their key indicators page. The NOAA site offered some of the best articles and the IPCC report is the most detailed and their site also gives detailed information about the process they used to draw their conclusions. If you don't trust NASA, NOAA and the IPCC to report data accurately then this blog post won't mean much to you. We would need to have a different conversation altogether I suspect.
To sum up what I read, the climate is not only changing, it is changing rapidly. The last three decades have been the warmest on record over the past 1400 years.
|Public Domain image. Source: climate.nasa.gov/key_indicators/|
|Public Domain image. Source: http://www.climate.gov/news-features/climate-qa/why-did-earth%E2%80%99s-surface-temperature-stop-rising-past-decade|
During the same decade the polar ice has continued to melt. Arctic ice has decreased from over 6 million square kilometers in 2000 to under 4 million square kilometers in 2012. The Antarctic continent has lost 100 cubic kilometers of ice per year since 2002. This is just my thought, so it may be wrong or a bad analogy, but it seems to me that losing ice may be a better measure of warming than surface temperature. After all, if I set out a glass of ice water outside on a hot day the temperature of the water and the air immediately above it will remain steady until the ice melts. It's only after the ice melts that my drink becomes tepid.
|Public Domain Image. Source: climate.nasa.gov/key_indicators/|
|Public Domain Image. Source: climate.nasa.goc/key_indicators/|
So, looking at the data, my conclusion is that yes, the climate is changing. The earth is becoming warmer overall and it is happening rapidly. Which leads to my next question. Is human activity the primary cause of climate change today?