CLAIM: Climate change/global warming isn’t happening. Wrong. Climate change is happening, and it’s backed up by vast volumes of scientific evidence from all branches of science. This graph is a helpful visual representation of temperature trends for the last 140-odd years. The climate is definitely warming. Not only that, 2000-2009 was the hottest decade on record. And 1990-1999 was the hottest decade before that, and 1980-1989 the hottest decade before that. It’s happening. Of course, you could theoretically pick a starting and end point on the graph–say, between 1980 and 1990–and claim that temperatures actually are dropping. You could totally do that–but not only would you be flat-out wrong, you’d be manipulating the facts to suit your own conclusions. Looking at the bigger picture, and considering all the data points, shows that global temperatures are rising at an alarming rate. The Daily Mail ran an article a while back claiming that the world was cooling, backed by the dubious evidence of Arctic sea ice levels rising from 2012 to 2013. Climate “skeptics” have been parading this article around like the Gospel of truth, but the fact is that this article is based on flimsy reasoning and a misrepresentation of data. Yes, the extent of sea ice rose in 2013 when compared to 2012. But that’s because 2012 was the worst year for Arctic sea ice extent on record.
You can’t predict trends to span decades and centuries by extrapolating from changes that occurred over one year. It’s like staring at five pixels on a screen and announcing with utter certainty that it’s definitely a replica of the Mona Lisa. That’s not a sound or reasonable conclusion to make unless you can zoom out and see the entire picture. In this case, zooming out to see the entire picture will show you that the opposite is true: with some fluctuation, sea ice extent in the Arctic has been steadily declining. Evidence backing the existence of global warming is hardly reserved to climatologists, either. Carbon is measurable, and scientific evidence shows that in places where carbon can accumulate, it has–in unprecedented amounts. For example, carbon dioxide dissolves in oceans to form carbonic acid; in turn, this acid has been steadily lowering the pH of oceans, making them more acidic.
Because the oceans are the second-largest receptacles of carbon (dioxide), measuring their content in the water is a great way to estimate the volume of atmospheric CO2. Incidentally, this is the same carbon dioxide that’s building up in the atmosphere, causing temperatures to rise. Aside from the obvious negative effect of temperatures rising above what oceanic ecosystems might be able to tolerate, the increased acidity of the water means that more and more shellfish will suffer from deformed shells, or worse, no shells at all. The decline of shellfish, especially plankton, in the oceans will seriously affect oceanic biodiversity and our own livelihoods.
Increasing global temperatures are a mixed blessing. For the past 50 years, rising global temperatures have contributed to rising crop yields, but now that trend is going to change. Global heat waves, now rising in frequency and intensity, threaten to diminish crop yields and exacerbate the already-awful global food crisis.
Finally, evidence of global warming is also apparent in the movement patterns of migratory patterns. As we all know, certain species go south in the winter to escape the cold and north in the summer to escape the heat–Monarch butterflies, for example, some whales, and some birds. In recent years, however, it’s been observed that migratory animals are ranging further north to escape the heat, and much more quickly than anticipated. In fact, species are ranging as far north as 11 km every year to escape warmer weather. Here’s a graph showing the northward movement of birds over 40-some years.
The same thing is happening to tree ranges and butterfly migrations. Temperatures are rising and pushing animals further north, but that’s not the only issue. Soon, these animals won’t be able to go any further north. As the seasons fail to suit their requirements, or as they fail to adapt so quickly to the changes, they will probably decline and maybe even go extinct.