It’s time to clear up your climate change confusion
By Rebeka Ryvola
Our climate is warming at unprecedented rates, but Canadians are not moved to take action. Climate change is causing everything from species extinctions and rising sea levels to ocean acidification and water and food shortages. Yet, we continue to live our lives like nothing is wrong. We are not acknowledging the role we are playing in creating these threats to humankind and the Earth.
The reason for this inaction is a scary one: many Canadians do not believe that current climate change is human-caused. Even the most apparent climate-change impacts are being brushed aside, chalked up to mere natural processes. This way of thinking exists because the fossil-fuel industry has expended huge amounts of money and effort to fabricate the “other side” of the climate-change controversy.
The scientific research behind the climate change is real and indisputable among the world’s experts. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change leads the way in amassing research done by scientists all around the globe. The reputable IPCC prides itself on processing research and providing an understanding of climate change and how it is altering our Earth. The IPCC is open to all contributions of valid research and yet no research has been presented which refutes that we are rapidly altering our atmosphere.
On the one side of the debate is the IPCC and many other well-intentioned organizations standing for fast action against human-induced climate change. On the flip side, we have various scientists and organizations operating out of fossil-fuel industry pockets. These “climate skeptics” are able to paint a very convincing picture of a scientific disagreement on the causes of climate change. The oil and gas giants have good reasons to be funding massively misleading campaigns of trickery: their money is made extracting and selling harmful fossil fuels. They depend on public consumption of their product. In one case, a fossil fuel-funded “scientific” organization, the Information Council on the Environment, spent $500,000 on a campaign to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact)”. Climate misinformation campaigns permeate media all around us; newspapers, television, and the Internet all present us with a false two-sided climate debate.
Since most of us are not scientists ourselves, it is difficult to know what exactly we should be asking of the information that comes our way. The idea that the climate skeptics are on a level playing field with peer-reviewed scientific research is ludicrous. The IPCC and the majority of the globe’s scientists devote their life to tireless work that broadens our understanding of the world we live in. The skeptics, deniers, and oil-funded scientists have a shady agenda of deception. When we see how wildly unbalanced the two “sides” are, it becomes obvious that a valid scientific disagreement does not exist.
Now is the first time in history that we can use our technology and intelligence to predict what the future of our Earth will look like—and, without serious change, this future does not look good. The scientific consensus is that we are rapidly sliding down a slippery slope. We have evidence that shows us we need change and we have the technology required to make it. It is time to make critical decisions that will impact all future generations.
You are now aware that climate misinformation campaigns exist. Take it upon yourself to question your sources. Challenge, research, and think critically about all that is presented to you. Once we see past the phony skeptics, we can begin to make lifestyle adjustments. We can start to vote with our dollar, and demand our politicians lead the way. We need to see clearly for each other, for the future, and for all the other living things on Earth that are waiting anxiously for us to determine their fates.
Rebeka Ryvola is a global resource systems undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia who runs an environment and science blog called EnviroSphere for the Ubyssey, UBC’s student newspaper.