WITH thousands of peer-reviewed papers saying the climate is warming more quickly than at any time in history due to human activities — and maybe another half-dozen papers disputing that claim — I'm surprised that there are still some doubters among the unlettered.
I'm even more surprised at how vehemently they express their doubts, often claiming that the most bizarre conspiracies are really behind the false flag of global warming.
With worldwide temperatures trending ever upward year by excruciatingly overheated year, there can be no reasonable doubt that something is going on. As proof, just look at the Figure, which was published by newscientist.com.
The trend is indisputable, regardless of whether that alarming spike is caused by human activities or a natural occurrence.
Here are 10 reasons to sound more alarm bells:
1. Throughout history, natural levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have varied between 180 and 300 parts per million. On May 10, USA Today reported carbon dioxide levels of 400 ppm, representing a major increase over the highest recorded pre-Industrial Revolution levels, which hovered around 280 ppm.
2. Scientists expect a 3.5 degrees F increase in average global temperatures by 2100, resulting in the warmest temperatures in the past million years. During the Pliocene epoch 1.8 million years ago, when the Earth's temperatures were roughly equivalent to today, sea levels were 12-18 ft. higher.
3. The Earth has always experienced cyclical bouts of climate change. Recorded temperatures throughout history plot graphs of peaks and valleys with occasional extreme periods, such as the little ice age of the 17th and 18th centuries and the medieval warming period of the 11th century.
4. According to studies by the National Aeronautics & Space Administration, average temperatures around the world have increased 1.4 degrees F since 1880, with most of the change occurring in recent decades.
5. The last two decades of the 20th century were the hottest in more than 400 years and may have been the hottest decades in several-thousand years.
6. Average temperatures in the Arctic climates of Alaska, Canada and Russia have risen at twice the global average in the last century.
7. The effects of global warming could destroy the habitats of and threaten extinction for more than 1 million species of plants and animals.
8. In 1910, Glacier National Park in Montana boasted 150 glaciers; today, there are just 27.
9. Deserts worldwide are expanding as a result of warmer temperatures. At the end of 2007, Australia lost 25% of its crop production due to desertification.
10. The Earth's atmosphere now contains 40% more carbon dioxide than before the Industrial Revolution.
To those anti-science Luddites who doubt that manmade global warming is real, I say go ahead with your ostrich-like approach to the issue. Sticking your head in the cool sands of denial will leave your exposed backside pointed at the very hot sun. Well-done rump roast, anyone?
Whether it's manmade or a natural event that has been repeated often over the millennia of life on Earth, those temperature spikes should frighten everyone.
Wise cracks about owning ocean-front property in Las Vegas, Nev., and Pittsburgh, Pa., will start to sound like whistling in the dark as you tiptoe past the graveyard at midnight on Halloween. It has all the deadly potential of a melanoma on the Earth's skin — solvable if we act now, but lethal if we ignore it. It's like playing Russian roulette with five bullets in your six-chambered Smith & Wesson.
The thermometer knows no political position. It is neither right wing nor left wing. It does not care about the opinions of big oil, big government or small minds.
As it tracks an average temperature that keeps trending upward with the very real potential to reach levels not known since man began to walk the Earth and mine its carbon-based resources, it's time to get serious, take stock and do what we can as quickly as we can.
*Chuck Jolley is president of Jolley & Associates, a marketing and public relations firm that concentrates on the food industry.