In the last decade the consensus of scientific peer-reviewed papers on anthropogenic (man caused) Global Warming has rapidly gained favor. A recent report indicates 97.2% of recent scientific peer-reviewed papers favor anthropogenic Global Warming.
Major behavioral and economic changes to correct for Global Warming must happen. Greenhouse gases directly or indirectly produced engage every aspect of life. This change will have huge economic, political, and moral ripple effects that will change our lives more than any other issue facing us today. The reason it is so controversial is its urgency and potential threat to our existence. It requires immediate and disruptive changes to our ways of life.
There are conservatives who refuse to believe in it because it means giving up their way of living and livelihood. Their arguments vary from a straight-out denial of Global Warming to accepting it but saying that it is not anthropogenic thus cannot be changed. There are a few scientific studies, some outdated, that support their arguments but these are among the 2.7% of scientific papers not supporting anthropogenic Global Warming. Most of their support comes from conservative blogs, think tanks, religious groups, or political organizations that try to reinterpret or reject scientific evidence in their favor or simply ignore the evidence as invalid or incompletely. They claim that the science is imperfect and thus its conclusions inconclusive.
It is true that Climate Change is not a perfect science but the same is true for all sciences. Atomic science, medical science, space science, the life sciences, chemistry, physics, biology and all the other sciences that enable all that we depend upon in our daily lives are not perfect with new discoveries being made daily. It would be hypocrisy not to treat Global Warming the same.
Because of the magnitude of changes being proposed Global Warming is politicized, moralised, and monetized. The conservative political push-back in the U.S. has hindered progress in legislating and budgeting Climate Change initiatives. Energy industries such as oil, coal, and gas are heavily lobbying congress to vote against legislation that will hurt their industries. Many conservative citizens are against it because of the economic and lifestyle hardships that they feel forced upon them. Conservative religious groups say that God created earth for man benefit so man has a right to rule over it his way.
However more recently Pope Frances supported the fight against Global Warming on moral grounds saying man is selfish in his wasteful and abusive consumption of earth’s resources and pollution of God’s earth without consideration to nature which is also God’s creation requiring man’s respect.
Unfortunately when this issue becomes politicized or moralised it becomes less about science and more about ones beliefs. So no matter what scientists say or prove, their words fall on the deaf ears of those in denial. It has always been that way since the dark ages when people imprisoned or burned others at the stake for espousing such things as the earth being spherical or not the center of the universe.
Eventually science prevails. But in this instance we are running out of precious time. If we do not act soon to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions it might be too late to reverse Global Warming in time to save humanity. Climate science is not advanced enough to predict how long we have so it is wisest to error on the safe side and dramatically reduce greenhouse emissions now. It takes considerable time after reducing greenhouse emissions before Global Warming reverses direction. But I am again talking science.
It will take moral leaders like Pope Frances to look beyond their own need to the needs of humanity to change the hearts and minds of those in denial. We need more clergy to speak up against Global Warming as a moral issue because the over-consumption of earth’s resources and greenhouse gas emissions is a moral assault upon creation. Add to that the possibility that man could put an end to existence is an ethical issue, like taking a life due to reckless driving.