WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Choose science, stewardship in understanding climate change

Posted October 12, 2015 12:05 p.m. EDT

Greg Fishel prepares for a video shoot at Loveland Pass.

After attending a Climate Change and Coastal Impact workshop in Beaufort, N.C., this past weekend, I think it is about time to call a spade a spade. As I have stated, I hate agendas, and there are agendas on both sides of the climate change debate which I abhor and have no time for.

But once you cut through all of that, much of which is ideological and political, you are left with hard science.

We have known for almost 200 years what gases make up our atmosphere, and what the radiative properties of those gases are. We know for a fact that the pre-industrial revolution levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are the difference between life and death on this planet. In other words, without the natural levels of these gases, the earth would be an iceball and uninhabitable. That is fact, not conjecture.

We know for a fact that the earth's temperature is rising, and that it's not the sun. If it were the sun, the entire atmosphere would be warming, but it's not. The troposphere, where most of the weather occurs, is warming up, and the stratosphere is cooling. This is all part of the radiative adjustments that are taking place because of what man is doing to the composition of our atmosphere.

Satellites confirm that the amount of long-wave radiation leaving the earth is decreasing and is emanating from a higher and higher altitude. Again, the exact response one would expect from human forces.

We know for a fact that the lifetime of carbon dioxide molecules is on the order of hundreds and even thousands of years, unlike water vapor molecules whose lifetime in the atmosphere is just shy of two weeks.

And on top of all of this, we hear the argument that it is economic suicide for the U.S. to act alone, and that we need the cooperation of China and India. Did you know both of those countries are leaving us in the dust when it comes to pursuing new technologies relating to energy production? Those countries see the economic opportunity and are going after it while we sit around and have politically partisan arguments.

And oh by the way, I am not for a one-world government. I love capitalism, but how 'bout we pursue something I like to call 'capitalism with ethics?' Let's not legislate morality, but rather enact it voluntarily through our actions. For people of faith, stewardship is more than the money drive in the fall. It's about taking care of things entrusted to you. For Christians, are we really followers of Christ, or just like the Pharisees 2,000 years ago who were so misguided they totally missed the point of Christ's teachings? I know I am more the latter than the former, and it's about time I wake up and smell the coffee.

We live in a country now where we embrace division for the sake of division. Oh, we disguise it as loyalty to principles and to God, but I suggest to you that this is unadulterated bunk. It's about winning and being right as opposed to doing what's best for the country and the world.

We need to stop hiding behind our computers and iPhones, in order to launch verbal missiles at those we disagree with and have no intention of getting to know or trying to understand. We have no interest in even considering the possibility of being wrong about anything. Oh, what shame that would bring upon us. Really? Being wrong is a blessing and an opportunity to learn. It is something to embrace!

Bob Inglis, former congressman from South Carolina and a conservative Republican, knows what it is to think outside the box. When it comes to climate change, he had to admit he was wrong, and that he was coming at this issue in a purely partisan manner. He now is trying to engage other conservatives to look at this in a different way and to sit down with members of the other party and say, "Hey you have some good ideas and we have some good ideas. Let's take the best of the best and do something good for our country."

If I could "copy and paste" Bob's mindset 536 times, one for each member of our Congress and our President, I would do it in a heartbeat. Then it would no longer matter what the makeup of Congress was because everyone would be there for all the right reasons.

In closing, I believe science is a gift from God. We benefit from science in our daily lives 1,000 times over through all the conveniences we enjoy. Why have we chosen to turn our back on science when it comes to basic chemistry and physics? It is time to stop listening to the disingenuous cherry-pickers and start taking responsibility for learning the truth about climate change.

For those of you who are ardent skeptics, it's going to be uncomfortable. I know, I have gone through the entire process. But in my mind, I didn't make a mistake, I simply grew as a human being. There aren't too many experiences in life that can top that.