Will we find a solution for climate change? Should we be optimistic or pessimistic about climate change?
Will we find a solution for climate change? Should we be optimistic or pessimistic about climate change?There are three vital signs show that climate change is a problem. Since the Industrial Revolution, the atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased. Based on the data provided by NASA, the carbon dioxide level never exceeded 300 parts per million in the past 650,000 years; however, after the industrial revolution, carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere passed 300 parts per million in 1950. In 2014, the atmospheric carbon dioxide level was nearly 400 parts per million. The concentration of carbon dioxide has increased nearly 100 parts per million. Next, climate change is clearly a problem if we take a look at the sea level. “Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last (100 years) century. The rate in the last (10 years) decade is nearly double that of the last century” (NASA). Additionally, according to NASA, the five-year average variation of global surface temperatures from 1884 to 2014 had increased about 35.6 Fahrenheit (2 Celsius). Climate change was a problem. It is still a problem now. Although Vice President Al Gore and President Obama have plans to solve climate change and although NASA claims that mitigation and adaptation, government resources, and energy innovations are the solutions, there is no solution to climate change because people are future oriented and we are unconscious of the present environmental issues; Therefore, there is no reason for optimism even though Larry Brilliant suggests that people have successfully overcome disasters in the past.
NASA seems to have “solutions” to climate change, but their solutions do not actually solve the problem of climate change. Climate change will continue to be a problem to us even if we reduce emissions of and stabilize the levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. NASA claims to have solutions to climate change; however, when we take a close look at the solutions—mitigation and adaptation— provided by NASA, we will quickly learn that these “solutions” are unable to stop climate change. Mitigation is reducing climate change. To clarify, NASA is telling us to burn fossil fuels for electricity and heat as little as possible. Furthermore, energy innovations — solar, wind, and biofuels energies — are replacements for fossil fuels. In fact, nobody is willing to spend more money on solar, wind, and biofuels energies if they can produce electricity and heat with the sustained low prices of fossil fuels. Secondly, adaptation is another “solution,” which NASA suggests to solve climate change. Adaptation is conforming to actual and future climate (NASA). According to NASA, they state that people and societies are capable of adjusting to life in a changing climate because people have adapted to changes in climate and extremes with varying degrees of success. Unfortunately, people will be forced to adapt to climate change because carbon dioxide level, global temperature, and sea level are increasing as the clock ticks. Mitigation and adaptation are not solutions to climate change; they are merely plans or ideas that act to make climate change less severe. For a long time, scientists and politicians have tried to seek solutions to fight against climate change; sadly, nobody can find a solution to climate change.
While the purpose of NASA is not to make climate policy or come up with solutions to climate change, its goal is to provide robust scientific data to help government organizations to understand, evaluate, and combat climate change. To combat climate change, the U.S. Energy Department supports research on making fossil energy technologies cleaner and less harmful to the people and the environment (energy.gov). For many years, the former U.S. Vice President Al Gore provides ideas to address climate change or planetary emergency as he called it. Although Al Gore called people to acts together to fight the issue of climate change in 2006 on Ted Talks, climate change did not get any better even though government resources addressed climate change. In June 2014, President Obama established the Clean Power Plan; and, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claimed that the U.S. is “on the path toward a 30 percent reduction in carbon pollution from the power sector by 2030.” It is great that government organizations have plans to respond to climate change, but we still do not have a solution to combat climate change. In other words, climate change is an unfixed problem that people have tried to fix.
According to NASA, 97% of climate scientists and most leading scientific organizations worldwide agree that climate change is due to human activities. Unfortunately, we will not find a solution to climate change because it is an inevitable consequence due to human activities. Moreover, humans are the root of the problem of climate change. According to the article, “The Values Americans Live By,” Robert Kohls states that one of the American values is future orientation. The value of future orientation critiques the Americans’ lifestyle because it suggests that people are unconscious of the present world, which they live in; people are only “looking toward the future and what it will bring” (Kohls 4). Future orientation is not only a value that Americans live by, but it also is a value most people in the world live by; Thus, climate change is an inevitable consequence because people did not focus on and think about the future environmental issues but their own selfish desires.
Should we be optimistic or pessimistic? Larry Brilliant gave a talk on TED Talks in 2006, “The case for Optimism,” regarding climate change. He claims to be optimistic about the increasing trend of carbon dioxide concentration, global temperature, and sea level in the world because of what he saw in his personal history. Brilliant lived in a Himalayan Monastery and he studied with a wise teacher. One day, his wise teacher commanded him to work for the World Health Organization Smallpox Program. Brilliant states, “it should make you optimistic that smallpox no longer exist because smallpox was the worst disease in history.” According to Brilliant’s data shown in his presentation on TED Talks, smallpox causes the most deaths of any infectious disease. Smallpox killed nearly 500 million in the 20th century. Because of smallpox, nearly 2 million people died in 1967. Surprisingly, smallpox was eradicated in 1979. Brilliant is optimistic because of the eradication of smallpox. He argues that if we can overcome smallpox, how can we not be optimistic about climate change? Brilliant is putting his faith in human knowledge. He is trusting man’s ability to change the world.
It is great to be optimistic during difficulties, but we need to realize the problem as it is rather than something it is not. Climate change is a very different problem than smallpox. First of all, there is no reason at all for us to be optimistic because climate change is not getting any better and we do not have a solution to completely solve the problem of climate change. Even Larry Brilliant himself states “CO2 concentration, global temperature, and sea level will continue to rise long after emissions are reduced.” People have tried to fight against climate change, but it is not going away. We cannot compare climate change with smallpox because it is caused by human activities. Since humans are the root of the problem of climate change, we would have to disappear from earth to solve the issue of climate change. Climate change is not like an infectious disease in the human body, but it is like a cancer in the heart of the earth.
In summary, I do not have enough faith to be optimistic when it comes to climate change. Mitigation and adaptation, government resources, and energy innovations seem like solutions to climate change, but they are not. I do not have enough faith to believe that human can find a solution to overcome climate change because we are the problem and because we are future oriented. To close the presentation, we should learn from our own mistakes and do the best we can to live selfless lives to mitigate climate change for the next generation.
Brilliant, Larry. “The case for Optimism.” TED. N.p., Jan. 2007. Web. 20 July 2015.
“Climate Change.” ENERGY.GOV. U.S. Department of Energy, n.d. Web. 20 July 2015.
Gore, Al. “Averting the Climate Crisis.” TED. N.P., Feb. 2006. Web. 20 July 2015.
“President Obama’s Plan to Fight Climate Change.” The White House. The White House, n.d.
Web. 20 July 2015. <https://www.whitehouse.gov/climate-change>.
”Vital Signs: Carbon Dioxide.” Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. Ed. Holly Shaftel and Laura Tenenbaum. NASA, n.d. Web. 20 July 2015. < http://climate.nasa.gov/>.