One of the most entertaining books I’ve ever read is Bill Bryon’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything”, in it, the author touches on topics such as…well, nearly everything. Bryson is a meticulous researcher, an outstanding teacher, and the book is wall-to-wall fun. What intrigued me though, was how Bryson traces the history of life on earth nearly 4 billion years to ascertain just “how we got here.” And while reading, it occurred to me how relevant this book is vis-à-vis the topic of climate change because the history of how we got here is inextricably linked to climate.
One would have to be obtuse not to realize that climate has played an enormous role in the evolution of man from single cell organisms to homo sapiens. And to paraphrase Bryson, most of us are only vaguely aware of just how lucky mankind has been to be attached to a favored evolutionary line. Additionally, for any of us to have the ability to read these words means that we have been incredibly fortunate in our personal ancestry to even be here.
From the time single cell organisms first appeared on the earth, for each of us to exist today every one of our fore-bearers on both sides had to have been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. How fortunate we are that not a one of our pertinent ancestors was devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, squashed, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from its life quest of delivering its genetic material to exactly the right partner at exactly the right moment in time in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result in the person each one of us is today.
From single celled organisms to homo sapiens, life on earth has adapted to new and changing circumstances for nearly 4 billion years. And as life has evolved, so too has earth’s climate & atmosphere changed through the eons. Did you know that early in the earth’s history there was very little oxygen in our atmosphere, yet life adapted. Then life continued to adapt as oxygen became the second most abundant element in the earth’s atmosphere. At the same time, life has adapted to temperatures far higher and far lower than what we find today.
I prefer not using the term ‘climate change’ because it implies that our ever-changing climate is an event rather than a process. Nonetheless, life on earth has been adapting to its environment since the first single-celled organisms appeared in a hot steamy swamp 3.8 billion years ago, and as the planet continues to alternately warm and cool life will continue to adapt.
We know mankind has affected the environment, but to date, science has been unable to ascertain the extent of our influence nor what can realistically be done about it. Meanwhile, there are benefits to a warming planet regardless of whether the temperature increase is caused by man or nature. Benefits such as fewer winter deaths (severe winters cause more heart failures than do heatwaves) greater agricultural yields; a richer biodiversity such as crops that are engineered for new climate conditions and of course lower energy costs.
Many regions of the world will benefit from an earlier spring and longer growing seasons. Meanwhile, as we learned in school, carbon dioxide is necessary for life on earth. Lest we forget, we are carbon-based life forms. And because plants use carbon dioxide to react with water in photosynthesis, without carbon dioxide, there would be no plants, no animals, and no us; so, I fail to understand the demonization of a compound so essential for life on earth.
Every grade school child knows that carbon dioxide occurs naturally when organisms respire or decompose, carbonate rocks become weathered, forest fires occur, and volcanoes erupt. And of the three places where carbon is stored—atmosphere, oceans, and land biosphere, it’s the oceans that contain most of the earth’s carbon dioxide (93%). So, scientifically speaking, carbon dioxide is not the villain it is made out to be by the media; in fact, it’s not even the #1 greenhouse gas, water vapor is. But Google “What is the #1 greenhouse gas?” and the first result you will find is the EPA’s website https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases where you’ll find no mention of water vapor, so great has the politicization and dishonesty about climate become.
Meanwhile, you’ll also never hear a climate activist talk about the elephant in the room – nuclear energy, and this is a case where the fossil fuel industry was complicit in its demonization of this very clean and very abundant source of energy as it hoist itself by its own petard by spending billions denigrating nuclear as a source of energy. Even Hollywood added its two cents on nuclear with movies such as the The China Syndrome.
~ Education or Indoctrination? ~
Muslim children in the Middle East aren’t born with an innate hatred of Jews – this is something they learn through indoctrination from the government and in their madrasas. Nor did the adult population 1930s Germany wake up one morning believing they were the master race – no, it took years of indoctrination and propaganda in schools and from a government-controlled media to convince them of such. Unfortunately, this same tactic appears to be working with the young people in this country regarding the subject of climate change.
Talk to middle school children and ask them about the climate or global warming and then brace yourself for a Greta Thunberg type admonishment and you’ll understand why the topic has passed from science to proselytization.
Human history is replete with adaptation to one circumstance or another, and adaptation is a far better solution to the perceived climate crisis than the current wholesale destruction of western economies that’s currently occurring.
I will close this blog by paraphrasing Thomas Sowell; facts are seldom allowed to contaminate the visions of the left. What matters to the left are the endlessly repeated slogans (“The science is settled!”) Lest we forget, Darwinian adaptation to environment applies not only to nature but also to society. And just as you will never find birds living in the ocean or fish living in trees, so you will never find leftists concentrated where their ideas have to stand the test of performance.