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Telling the Truth About Climate Change

Copyright Francis P. Koster, Ed.D.

We have a discussion going on in our society about “global warming” and “climate change” that is not working. We can create a better future – but only we follow the oath used in court – to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”.  

There are two major parts of this discussion where that oath is not being followed.

The term "global warming" was first used by scientists in the mid 1970’s and quickly abandoned by them as being a poor choice of words. It was too narrow to correctly communicate all the changes occurring.

If you put your feet in the refrigerator and your head in a pot of boiling water on the stove, the average temperature (around your belly button) would not accurately describe your situation. Averages mask extremes. People who report on average global warming temperatures are trying to point you to your belly button instead of your hot head or cold feet .

Scientists take measurements from over 11,500 measuring stations all over the world each hour of every day.[1] When analyzed, these show parts of our globe warming and other parts cooling. Average it all together, and “Voila” – no global warming.   How is that belly button feeling?

California is burning up due to extreme heat and lack of water and our food supply from there is threatened, while parts of our eastern United States is growing cooler and having unprecedented flooding. [2] The ice is melting fast in the Arctic, but growing in the Antarctic.  

By using the term “global warming” instead of “climate change” in the debate, the speaker talks about belly buttons.

The second argument that violates the oath to tell “the truth, the whole truth…..” is to announce that global warming is not “man made”. Rather, it is said, global warming is part of a natural cycle. The reason for inserting this into the debate is that if the observed changes are not man made, no one has to take responsibility. If, on the other hand, it is “man made”, many customers and industries would have to change old habits, which would impact the coal and electric industries or the oil and natural gas industries.  

To support their “not man made” argument, these folks often announce that there have been great periods of rising and falling temperatures in our planet’s history. This part is “the truth…”, but it is not “the whole truth”. To tell the whole truth, they would have to disclose these natural cycles (there are 5 of them) began 450,000 years ago (the cycles are about every 100,000 years) – before man walked the planet. And ‘whole truth’ would point out that according to these “natural cycles” the planet is supposed to be in the cooling phase – which it was until recently, when man began to burn coal, oil, and natural gas in major amounts, and climate change began.

The reason that “man made” “climate change” is occurring is twofold.   The first is population growth. Since the time of Christ, the earth’s population has now grown 35 times. [3]   The second is that clever people figured out that using coal, oil, and natural gas would make life a lot easier for everyone.   Usage started in small ways during the 1800’s, and has grown rapidly, particularly in the past decades.   So we have more people using more climate changing products – and scientists see the impact everywhere.  

When you hear people claim that ‘global warming’ is not ‘man made’, you can be sure the words are not “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”. The whole truth would be that “climate change” is “man made”, and threatens the lives and health of our dependents.

On the home front, there are many climate changing actions to be taken, from correctly inflating our car tires to wrapping our water heaters and switching out our light bulbs.   In our communities, we can ensure that schools and public buildings are installing the latest in energy saving devices and renewable energy systems. This will not only lower the risk of climate change, it will save taxpayer money. You can find many such suggestions on my website.

We are facing some politicized choices. I hope you will join with me and choose life and health for our loved ones.


  [1] http://www.carbonbrief.org/profiles/global-temperatures/

[2] http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/05/140509-global-warming-hole-southeast-climate-change-science/

[3] http://www.census.gov/popclock/

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