Natural cycles have resulted in the majority of past changes in the climate. This data is very well documented and agreed on by most. However there is a noticeable and notable deviation from these cycles that occurs over the last half century. It is unlikely that such a deviation would be a result of natural forcing. Global temperatures have risen at an unprecedented rate since 1980. Since 1980, an increasing dependency on fossil fuels, both for transportation and development, and the resulting CO2 released into the atmosphere have played an increasingly important role in rising global temperatures.

It is necessary for a certain amount of CO2 to be present in the atmosphere, however a steady amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would not produce the divergence from the norm that is visible on global temperature graphs. There is data that shows a definitive correlation between an increase in CO2 production and global temperature rise. That being said, since we recognize that anthropogenic forcing is a driving factor in the increase of the CO2 present in the atmosphere, and that CO2 will drive global temperatures, some sort of responsibility must fall on those that are causing the problems. The developed world has the means, both financial and technological to reduce and reverse the destructive path that we are currently on.

There should be a concern for the possibility of climate change, because it’s not a possibility, it’s a reality. As mentioned above, we recognize that there’s a problem, we can fix it, so why don’t we? We can see what is already happening as a result of rapidly rising global temperatures. It can be seen in sub-Saharan Africa in extended periods of severe drought and an unpredictable rainy season, the result of this being failing crops, mass starvation, and numerous human casualties. It can be seen in polar regions in the thawing of permafrost and the reduction of present glaciers. Thawing permafrost will release additional greenhouse gases, most notably methane, into the atmosphere, further exacerbating the problem. Melting of the Greenland ice sheet or the Antarctic ice sheet presents the threat of global sea level rise, which brings with it the flooding of coastal regions and the destruction of various ecosystems, much of which would occur in developed countries. The future effects are the ones that potentially affect the developed world the most. Unfortunately for many in power in developed countries, a policy of “out of sight, out of mind” takes priority. The immediate threat lies heavily on developing countries around the world. It is sadly ironic that those that are least responsible are suffering the most because of their lack of ability to adapt.

It all reduces to greed. If the developed world could reduce its preoccupation with profits and increase its concern for human well-being, both present and future, at home and abroad it might be possible to make “alternative” energy the norm. The result would be significantly remedial to the trajectory that our temperatures are presently on. Concerning ourselves with this issue now is what will hopefully mitigate and reverse the aforementioned effects of climate change. There must be a way to make responsible forms of energy more lucrative.

CRU Research Data

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