Expert opinions matter
DANIEL L. ALTERS
Two of our children live many miles from where they were raised in northcentral Pennsylvania, relocating when they found work they enjoyed or a person they wanted to share their life.
Like many of their generation, they may well move again. It seems this is what humans have done for millennia — moving to make some sort of improvement to their life. Unfortunately, many people worldwide have been on the move a lot lately due to war, poverty, persecution, famine, or other conditions that have made their home country inhospitable. And I believe this is going to get worse. The planet’s climate is reacting to greenhouse gas emissions in some horrifying ways.
Europe, Southern Eurasia and the Arctic are getting much warmer. Arid parts of the world are getting even drier. Some low-lying places like Bangladesh and certain Pacific islands are already threatened with rising seas. Most of these changes were predicted many years ago when scientists — you know, those folks who are truly the experts when it comes to scientific things — began to fully understand that burning fossil fuels added carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and that it created a sort of blanket that kept the heat in.
We hear more and more about what is now described as the climate crisis every day, in newspapers, magazines and on television. Officially, every country on Earth (except one, the United States)) has stated that civilization needs to do something about this climate crisis and has signed their name to a document called the Paris Agreement. One may wonder, why has the U.S. not accepted the Paris Agreement?
It seems our current Congress and federal administration do not accept what the vast majority of climatologists (those scientists that know the most about climate) have been saying for years — that the Earth is warming up and that humans are the cause. Some citizens vehemently deny that climate change is even real.
I understand this reaction. People are afraid of drastic change, and the climate crisis will certainly bring drastic change, whether we aggressively address the crisis or we ignore it completely. Those that understand the changes necessary to address the climate crisis know that these changes will bring an increase in what it costs us for pretty much everything, and especially energy, food, and transportation.
Those that have studied all of the impacts of climate change also know that not addressing the issue will cost everyone even more — increased damaging impacts from severe weather, attempting to mitigate the impacts of rising seas, increased security costs associated with climate-induced migrations, to name a few.
So, who do we listen to? Are we influenced by the children that took to the streets during the “climate strikes” or the ones that spoke to the United Nations recently? Should we follow the example of our elected representatives in Congress? Do the many environmental organizations demanding action on the climate crisis influence our decisions?
The science is not that simple, and most people have only a superficial understanding. I recently took a course in the science of climate change, and even though I have a master’s degree in environmental pollution control, some of the material was over my head.
So I would choose to hear the advice of the experts — the climatologists who fully understand what causes changes in our climate — and to follow their recommendations. I began this by talking about people on the move. There are a lot of impacts caused by climate change, many of which have devastating effects.
The impact that concerns me most is the one I feel would cause the most human suffering, and that is people being forced to move from their home country due to climate change. Everyone will be suffering to some extent if climate change is not adequately addressed, and few nations will be willing to accept more people trying to escape even worse conditions.
I hope my children and grandchildren do not have to suffer the consequences of not addressing climate change.