Will climate change take its course?

Will climate change take its course?

By Mario Cuellar

As a species we have reproduced at enormous levels and we spend a lot of the planet's resources, especially in the West, and within a few years, the limit will be reached; Water, food, fuel and energy will become scarce and with it, death, wars and destruction. Perhaps that is when, even with warming, the planet begins to regain its balance.

That the human species will end up becoming extinct one day is something that no one questions. As for millions of years, we were not on Earth due to various circumstances, we will disappear at some point. The question is whether it will be before or after. Right now, we already have the capacity to annihilate ourselves as a species, it would be enough that the nuclear weapons that many countries store were used for there to be a massive human extinction or for a terrorist group to be able to use them.

As a second threat, for the species in the medium term is climate change. Scientists are warning us that if we continue to increase the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the increase in temperatures in some areas will cause the disappearance of life as we know it in many areas of the Earth.

Until now, governments are not taking the issue as seriously as they should, and "short-termism" reigns, elections in democratic countries are every four years and are far from the time scales in which climate change moves .

Those who deny climate change argue that there have been and will be climate changes in the history of the Earth, of course, ignoring that during these periods, these changes made the development of species like humans impossible, given the climatic extremes they suffered. It is during a geologically speaking period of climatic calm where man has developed and evolved. A return to extreme conditions of temperature, glaciation or warming will cause a massive human extinction.

The climate change deniers repeat that in the 70s scientists announced an ice age and now they announce global warming, so it is not possible to be sure what will actually happen. First, it must be said that those who announced the glaciation were rather pseudoscientific (they also said that tobacco did not cause cancer) and there were also scientists such as Charles David Keeling (1) who developed the first theories about warming in the 50s than later. studies have shown true. This is what happens in the scientific debate, one can say many things, but then you have to prove it and what is clear is that after the industrial revolution and the consumption of fossil fuels, the concentration of carbon dioxide has exceeded 280 ppm at 380 ppm and as a consequence the proven increase in global temperature by 1 degree centigrade during this period.

The climate change deniers argue that the increase in temperatures during the 20th century has not been constant and they use some periods as a convenience. It is true that it has not been constant, but the general trend has been towards an increase in temperatures and the following trick question is asked without citing the source of this data: Why did the global temperature decrease in the period 1940-1975, which is when more carbon dioxide was emitted? The first part of the question is not entirely true; According to Roger G. Barry and Richard J. Chorley (2) there have been four periods from 1831 to 1920, with no firm trend, from 1920 to 1940 where there was a “considerable warming” increase of 0.4 degrees on average, in the mid-1940s. at the beginning of the 70s where there was a “slight mean cooling in the northern hemisphere and constant temperature in the southern hemisphere and since then a constant increase until reaching in 2005 the highest values ​​since there are records. (3)

The second part of the question has a simple and obvious answer, there is a latent or response time between when carbon dioxide is emitted, diffused through the atmosphere or absorbed in the oceans and enhances the greenhouse effect. Another recurring argument of climate change deniers is that water vapor is more of a greenhouse than carbon dioxide as it has a higher concentration in the atmosphere and that the contribution of carbon dioxide to the natural greenhouse effect is only 3%. Again a tricky argument because water vapor maintains its concentration in the atmosphere on average throughout the hydrological cycle and the correlation between greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane with global temperature is clear, even though they are trace gases, that is, with a lower concentration than water vapor and also, they are those that are increasing their concentration as a result of human activities.

Another almost funny argument, if it weren't for the problem we are dealing with is that “if we are not able to predict the weather in fifteen days, how are we going to forecast temperatures at the end of the century or“ climate models do not predict the heating since computers are programmed so that it comes out ”(4). Meteorological models are based on atmospheric dynamics, air mass movements, general circulation, and physics equations of the atmosphere, climate models are based on external forcings (especially the composition of the atmosphere); An attempt is made to model what would happen in the event that the concentration of gases in the atmosphere changes and that brings me to the second point, it is not true that the models are programmed so that warming occurs.

There are ways to verify that a model is good and is none other than looking at the past. We have in the air bubbles of the polar caps and in the geological record the data to verify that a model is reasonably good (always starting from the basis that when modeling anything a part is lost, just as in statistics one takes a sample of the population that makes it easier to find the characteristics of that population, but that is not entirely sufficient, there is always a margin of error). Well, to check if a model is good, it is made to go back to a moment in which by means of the geological record we have the certainty of certain climatic conditions, it is simulated in powerful computers and if the result does not resemble the conditions at all that there really was is discarded, if they get close enough then the model is moved towards the future. And there is currently no model, which does not predict an increase in temperatures to a greater or lesser extent. (5)

Misrepresenting an official document, in this case the IPCC (6), has been a common practice of climate change deniers. For example, the latest report recognizes that there has been no increase in temperature in Antarctica as most of the models predicted, but it has increased in the rest of the continents. What data do the climate change deniers show? First. (7).

Now, just because the temperature has not increased in Antarctica does not mean that scientists have thrown all their study away. Science tries to explain things that at first glance may seem magical to us, such as a rainbow or lightning, and sometimes they are wrong and at other times, the error encourages investigation. It has been the history of science from its inception like human history, trial and error, trial and error, to the end. We must trust scientists and their work, assuming that as in any human activity there can be errors. But it is not due to a specific error that the general reality of what is happening with global warming should be hidden.

The reality is that not only the increase in temperatures is worrying but the associated effects. It has already been proven that the sea temperature is also increasing, increasing the possibility of destructive hurricanes, that glaciers are melting, increase the mean level of sea level, that prolonged droughts are interrupted by torrential rains and various increasingly extreme phenomena .

But even the most recalcitrant deniers already recognize that the atmosphere is indeed warming, although the reasons for this increase are based on an increase in solar activity or pseudoscience, but nothing to do with the intensification of the greenhouse effect. Some recognize that warming occurs, to later promote the use of nuclear energy and even those who point to the benefits of warming, once Antarctica has lost its ice, we will be able to take advantage of its natural wealth, urbanize it and continue to consume oil. As is the same at the North Pole, creating new trade routes, etc. Or for example, that crops could be planted where it is not possible now because of the low temperatures or even that more people die from cold than from heat and that for this reason global mortality will decrease.

Others such as the IMF and the World Bank who until now were among the skeptics of climate change, after the last IPCC report and the Sterm report, already show their concern about “the profound macroeconomic and fiscal repercussions of climate change” and would rethink the role of the IMF. (8) One of lime and many of sand. The WTO continues with its attempt to liberalize world trade and in fact, agreement has been reached on the liberalization of airspace between Europe and the United States. While reaching a minimum agreement to reduce carbon dioxide emissions or reach the conclusion that the planet is indeed warming takes time and a lot of work, measures in the opposite direction, that is, those that lead us to disaster, continue ahead.

But let's go back to the beginning, what will happen if measures are not taken to stop emitting carbon dioxide? In other words, the current models of economic growth continue. Should we join the deniers and say that nothing is wrong? Instead of Earth Day, celebrate Car Day? Burning more and more fossil fuels? Cut down all the forests, pave, and build millions of houses and golf courses? Since there is no problem with the weather, why not grow and grow? Why not continue consuming all the resources of the sea and land? Why not keep increasing the human population indefinitely?

Capitalism, the economic model of growth chosen by most nations during the 20th century, carries within itself the germ of destruction as it needs the incessant consumption of fossil fuels for its development, it needs labor, fuel, energy, materials. raw materials, transportation of them and their finished products, some finished products also need to consume more energy to continue working. Some sectors of capitalism are realizing that they cannot continue to depend on fossil fuels and are beginning to seek their own survival, but it is time to think of an alternative model that reduces our standard of living, but allows the future conservation of the species. Renewable energies could be a solution, but we are very far from being truly an alternative to fossil fuels, by the time they have been replaced it may be too late for millions of people.

As a species we have reproduced at enormous levels and we spend a lot of the planet's resources, especially in the West, and within a few years, the limit will be reached; Water, food, fuel and energy will become scarce and with it, death, wars and destruction. Perhaps it is when, even with warming, the planet begins to regain its balance and if someone of our species has survived, they will be able to develop respecting their environment or at least aware of the consequences of certain acts. If the human species does not survive and with it almost everything we now know as the natural environment, seas, forests, mountains, a new evolution would begin. Perhaps it is our destiny, the Earth will continue its course without humans as it did before.

* Globalize - April 2007


(1) (2) Atmosphere, time and climate, Roger G. Chorley Ediciones Omega,
(3) Kerry Emmanuel, MIT meteorologist, Boston Review
(4) Daniel Rodríguez Herrera, Digital Freedom
(5) Javier Martín Chivelet, Geologist of the UCM, Conference: What do past climates teach us about current climate change? November 22, 2006
(6) IPPC, 2007. Report for politicians
(7) Juan de Mariana Institute
(8) Teresa Ter-Minassian, Director of the IMF's Public Finance Department,
March 207 FM BulletinI.

Video: What people get wrong about climate change (January 2022).