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Climate Change Denial: Doing What Comes Naturally

The denial of climate change generally centers around two main arguments. First, it isn’t happening. Scientists are innocently or willfully misreading the data, as proved conclusively by Climategate. (Their words, not mine.) Second, even if climate change is happening, the cause is natural cycles not human activity.

They seem to be arguing that the addition of tens of billions of metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over the last 200 years – enough to push the concentration of atmospheric CO2 up to 384 parts per million (ppm) from 280 ppm – doesn’t really matter. The atmosphere does what comes naturally without taking note of all that extra carbon.

Really? Let’s put that to the test of common sense. One analogy would be smoking. Is there a difference to your health if you smoke one cigarette a day or one pack of cigarettes a day? Common sense tells you that if smoking one cigarette is a tiny bit bad for your health than smoking an entire pack is just that much more harmful.

I like this analogy better. Eating food is a natural thing. Combine the right amount of food and the right amount of exercise and your body stays healthy. Eat too much or exercise too little and your body’s equilibrium is altered. You start gaining weight, which in turn has deleterious effects on your overall health in the long run.

Thus, you can eat a cookie every now and then and that is not a bad thing. In fact, cookies make a pretty good snack. Start chomping down a box of cookies a day and you are heading for trouble. And let’s not even consider the social consequences of hogging all the cookies for yourself.

In essence, we have been feeding our atmosphere more and more cookies starting about 200 years ago. The rate of growth of carbon dioxide emissions between 2000 and 2006 is twice the rate of growth of the 1990’s. That’s a lot of anything. And what makes it worse is that we have done so in some measure not because we need more but because we want more.

Now you can sit there all day and tell me that none of this matters, that all that CO2 isn’t affecting things, but I ain’t buying that for one second. We need to put our atmosphere on a CO2 diet and we need to start now. Come to think of it, that’s not such a bad New Year’s resolution.

This essay first appeared in

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