People don’t want to deal with climate change if it disrupts their lives and the number of people in the US who don’t believe in climate change is increasing (despite the availability of information like this). This is silly because climate change is going to disrupt their lives a lot more than increasing public transportation or switching over to a green economy ever will.
Scientists studying climate change are frequently described as alarmist or criticized for coming up with wildly unrealistic scenarios. In reality, we’ve exceeded the IPCC’s worst case scenario for emissions. If anything, our models are far too conservative. A recent study suggests that global warming could be 50% higher than current models predict.
Here are just a few things scientists have under-predicted:
- Ocean acidification is happening faster than at any time in the last 55 million years. We’ve already done irreversible damage and if we don’t stop acidification, the oceans will become a place we don’t recognize anymore. Ocean acidification is caused by increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – the more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the more dissolves into the ocean.
- Sea levels in some areas may rise 3 times faster than we previously predicted and be higher, too. The slower the change, the easier it is to deal with. This won’t be easy.
- Bolivian glaciers that provide water for a very large population in a dry area that’s getting drier because of changing precipitation are melting faster than scientists thought they would.
Sea level rise is already creating climate refugees and Bolivia is considering moving people because of its climate change induced water issues. Immigration is a difficult issue in most countries. Climate change will create refugees directly though things like sea level rise and changes in precipitation that convert livable areas of the world to desert. It will also create refugees indirectly – climate change will make already scarce resources scarcer, causing violent conflicts.
Science is describing what’s happening to our world and trying to predict what we should prepare for. But dealing with climate change isn’t a scientific issue – it’s an ethical, economic, and political issue. The science is being politicized, but science can’t tell us how to prepare for climate change or how to convince people to do something about it.