No one wants to accept a worse-case scenario at the onset. It is human nature to question things and accentuate the positive. It’s a form of the survival instinct. However, the emerging evidence of climate change is making the reality of global warming harder to deny. Just ask Richard Muller, a professor of physics at the University of California and once prominent climate change skeptic.
Facing the Numbers
Muller’s about-face is the result of his own research with the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which he and his daughter, Elizabeth, founded. The project analyzed temperature changes in the last 250 years.
Based on the data, Muller concluded that climate change is indeed occurring, yet, at a faster pace than projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. What’s more, Muller also attributed the findings to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. While the findings parallel existing data, it is worth noting that the study has yet to be peer-reviewed.
For the layman, recent data may prove to be a similar wake-up call. May 2012 was the warmest on record for the Northern Hemisphere. Records were broken all across the country. Another stat which many Americans may not be aware of is that May marked the 327th consecutive month that the global surface temperature exceeded the 20th-century average.
The temperature records coincide with other remarkable events that have already occurred in 2012, most notably, the Colorado wildfires. They also come on the heels of other record-breaking data from Texas, which experienced its hottest and driest month in August 2011. Talk of gigatons of carbon dioxide may mean little to the average person. Soaring temperatures and dew points tell another story.
The Changing Implications
Many studies have published numbers talking about the evidence of global warming. The reality is that it is affecting more areas of everyday life than many have been anticipated from impacts of tourism in coastal areas to loss of flood protection to rising food prices. The message, however, is changing.
More scientists are coming to a conclusion that may shake even the most staunch skeptic’s view. Some data is emerging that suggests the planet is reaching a point of no return, adding an apocalyptic tone. What remains to be seen is if this spurs greater efforts toward saving the planet.