Nine Reasons Why Human-Caused Climate Change Is Real

WC’s readers, for the most part, sensibly accept the reality of anthropogenic climate change. But if those readers are like some of WC’s friends, there are folks who deny that reality. To help WC’s readers deal with those difficult friends, WC offers a graphic developed by the Environmental Defense Fund, with WC’s annotations on the right. The numbers on WC’s notes refer to the numbers on EDF’s graphic.

  1. If you burn carbon-based fuels – coal, petroleum, natural gas, wood – you create carbon dioxide.

  2. We can do the arithmetic. We can calculate how much carbon-based fuel we burn, and know how much CO2 we are creating.

  3. In historic time, we can measure the increased CO2 in the atmosphere; an observatory on top of Mauna Loa volcano has done that. We can measure prehistoric CO2 in trapped air bubbles in ice.

  4. Some carbon isotopes are radioactive and decay over time. We can measure the ratio of isotopes and identify CO2 that comes from fossil fuels. The ratio of ancient carbon atoms is increasing.

  5. High school physics shows that increased CO2 levels cause the atmosphere to hold more heat.

  6. Both historic and prehistoric records show the average temperature of the earth is warming rapidly.

  7. There are natural factors that affect long term climate cycles. Those factors have been analyzed, and cannot account for observed climate change.

8. Climate change deniers scorn climate models, but they are increasingly accurate. El Niño and La Niña events are much better predicted, for example.

  1. Ask your buddies if they’d rely on three doctors who told them they were fine when 97 other docs told them they had cancer.

There’s a tenth consideration also: increasingly, major multinational corporations and even the U.S. Department of Defense are planning for the consequences of climate change. Even Exxon Mobil. If the multi-nationals who lobbied against anthropogenic climate change are hedging their bets, maybe our climate change denying should as well.

Remember that these nine separate lines of argument all agree on anthropogenic climate change. You climate change denying buddies may still reject the evidence, but perhaps this will make it just a little harder.