Deniers of Climate Change

Being an Environmental Science and Policy major, I often get questions like; “So do you think climate change is actually real?” or “Are they brainwashing you in your classes up in the mountains?” (These are actual inquiries I received from a crazy relative). Although they are irritating, I can’t help but think where these sort of climate change deniers are gathering their information.

There is a bit of humor in these conversations because I cannot wrap my head around how my elders can arrive at these conclusions. Even when I attempt to explain certain natural processes studied over hundreds of years, there is always an excuse to defend their standpoint.

NASA published an article today April 19th that shed light onto the fact that there are still people out there who actively deny that climate change is happening. (Here’s the link so you can see for yourself). It is just baffling to know that these people truly do not take into consideration the extremely credible scientific research.

Even though there is a bit of humor when reading about climate change deniers, there is some concern that arises. How, in the 21st Century, can the denial of climate change be so prevalent?

The featured picture is a map of the globe demonstrating which countries are aware and concerned about climate change. This article was published on April 18th, so data used is recent and credible. It comes fro Pew Research Center – an organization based out of Washington D.C. that offers quantitative relays of unbiased data for public use. Countries that are highlighted with a more green hue believe climate change is a major concern, while the more yellow countries (like the U.S.) do not take climate change as seriously.

I now ask the question; what do you think about climate change?

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How strong will La Niña be this year?

We have talked about El Niño and La Niña before. Their intensities, what causes them, and how they effect our globe. What we have not discussed is the strength of the forecasted La Niña.

The current El Niño has been fading beginning in the winter of 2015. As 2016 progresses, it is showing further signs of weakening. Being said, conditions are as follows; El Niño weakens, normal Trade Wind and upwelling conditions ensue, and La Niña characteristics begin to show. Depending on conditions at the time, each sequence varies with time. For example, the current El Niño has been viewed over a long time period, versus some that are only months at a time.

Climate.gov is a website run through NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) that publishes information about past, present, and future climate. Published in January, this article asks the question, “Will La Niña follow El Niño? What the past tells us.” It continues to talk about, through recorded SST (Sea Surface Temperature) history, how after every El Niño came a La Niña. Although the strengths were not necessarily a telling of the next climactic episode, there was enough info to show that a La Niña is evident.

So, can we predict the strength of the next La Niña? The answer is no, probably not. But, we can infer that a La Niña is imminent sooner rather than later.

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Do Renewables Make a Difference?

Renewable energy is defined as “energy from a source that is not depleted when used.” Solar power, hydropower, and wind power are just three of the many renewable energy sources available to us.

There is a great deal of skepticism concerning how valuable renewable energy is. Being an Environmental Science & Policy major, I am frequently asked questions like; “Why does this matter?” or “How much of a difference can this one action make?”

With people becoming more aware of global climate change, countries are working towards become more renewable and sustainable. This means switching to more Earth-friendly means of energy and development. The Guardian recently published an article titled Surge in renewable energy stalls world greenhouse gas emissions.

It goes on to describe how China and the United States are actively working on decreasing the demand for coal, oil, and other non-renewable energy sources. Within the article, it is also stated that around 90% of new electricity generated in 2015 was due to renewable resources.

Now for the question; why does this matter? Well, without the surge of renewables, there could have been up to 2 more tons of greenhouse gases polluting our atmosphere. This would raise global temperature even more, leading to an increase in climate change effects.

Image credits: from The Guardian article (hyperlinked above)

Carbon Sinks

A “carbon sink” is defined as a part of the Earth, such as a forest or ocean, that absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The main natural carbon sink in the world would be the ocean. They can also be referred to as a carbon reservoir.

These carbon sinks cycle carbon between the atmosphere, biosphere, and hydrosphere. Although not as prevalent as the ocean, mangrove forests can store carbon in large amounts compared to other ecosystems.

Also named “Tiny But Mighty,” these mangroves store carbon within the soil where they are rooted into the ground. This article from Climate Central demonstrates the means of how this element is stored. It assesses mangroves along the West Coast and in Mexico.

Looking into the relevance of this issue, the amount of carbon emissions since the Industrial Revolution has increased drastically. This means that since then, carbon has been absorbed by the Earth’s mangrove forests.

So, the next time you start up your car, just think of where those CO2 emissions are going.

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