Climate change is apolitical. Climate change is science. Climate change is happening regardless of political pronouncements, administrative actions, legislation, or judicial rulings. Climate change is happening because of what humans are doing to the planet.
This year, atmospheric carbon dioxide is 403 parts per million. Next year it will be over 405 parts per million. This continues the relentless trend of record highs, above anything that has occurred in the past 400,000 years. Science rules and there is nothing that any politician or any group can do to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide from setting another new record next year.
Temperatures around the world in 2014 were the hottest since we began compiling statistics. In 2015 the record was broken again. When we reach the end of 2016, we will have established another hottest year on record. Conversation and even skepticism about climate change continue unabated, but the science is clear.
So it is with other symptoms of climate change: melting polar ice caps, ocean acidification, dying coral reefs, and more intense and more frequent extreme weather events. Whether or not we directly observe these phenomena, as citizens of the world we are impacted by them.
Climate change is being driven by carbon emissions from a myriad of special interest sources. These entities are sometimes competing but always striving for growth and operating in their own self-interest.
Transportation segments compete to fill more seats, or to put more vehicles on the roads. Energy resource companies compete for customers to consume more of the fossil fuels pumped or mined from the earth. Industry constantly strives to produce more widgets, anywhere possible, at he lowest labor cost and often with the least environmental regulation. A consuming public demanding more for less drives all of these sectors of the economy.
We are in a race against time. The forces of science, and changes occurring in the natural world will continue to move against us if we do things the same way we have for the past hundred and fifty years.
We have seen considerable effort to reduce carbon emissions, particularly since the turn of the last century. Major increases in production of electricity from wind and solar, and more electric cars on the road are prominent examples.
The progress we are making is fragile and not sufficient at this point to turn back nature. Even a temporary slowing or brief pause in the momentum to control climate change could be fatal for our ability to maintain the human species on the planet.
Sources of climate change must be regulated and controlled. There is no other way. Climate change cannot be eliminated by decree or by pretending it isn't really a problem.
We have been dealt a political hand that disdains regulation and control mechanisms, and that minimizes the risks we face from the advancing wave of climate change. Unfortunately the dialogue during the most recent election cycle did not get into a full and meaningful discussion of perhaps the most serious problem we face as a nation and a world of human beings.
The prospect of controlling climate change and its effects has become even more daunting. Staking out positions and arguing philosophes will not yield progress. Our only hope is reasoned dialogue and a better understanding of the scientific realities we face. Leaders in science and politics must face up to the challenge. The public must be engaged. We have a difficult hand to play.