The Disconnect Between Scientists and the Public on Global Warming

Reader Contribution by Richard Hilderman and Ph.D.
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In 2009 Gallup published a poll on the environment which concluded that 97.5 percent of practicing climate scientist believed global warming was occurring while only 58 percent of the general public believed that global warming was occurring.  Why is there such a disconnect between the climate change experts and the general public? One reason is climate change is an extremely complex issue involving different scientific disciplines. Another reason is that there is a lot of misinformation from both the scientific community and the public floating around. All of this leads to confusion and misconceptions in the minds of the general public.

However, there are two fundamental facts pertaining to climate change that can’t be refuted! The first fact is carbon dioxide absorbs heat. This has been known since the 1850s and this fact can be demonstrated by any physics lab in the world. Secondly, burning of fossil fuel as an energy source produces carbon dioxide as a waste product. This carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere from the smoke stacks of coal-firing electrical plants and from exhaust pipes of our automobiles. It should be very easy for all of us to comprehend that by increasing the atmospheric concentration of heat absorbing carbon dioxide means that a rise in the global temperature will follow!

If we fail to act on the climate problem that we have created, we will pass on a much impoverished world to our grandchildren and future generations. This new world will have higher temperatures, more heat waves, more droughts, more hurricanes, more tropical storms, more flooding, more tornadoes, a significant rise in sea level, less quality water, less land for agriculture, less biodiversity and a collapse of ecosystems that are essential to our way of life.

As the number of extreme weather events spiral upward so will the cost in lives and billions of dollars to repair the damage. The choice is ours. We either convert to non-carbon base renewable energy sources or we let future generations face the consequences. What legacy do we want to leave for future generations?

Photo Credit: Fotolia/sdecoret

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