Humans drive climate change

Apr 14, 2019

A study out in March in the British peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change showed that anthropogenic (human-caused) global climate change is a virtual certainty. Global scientists are 99.9999 percent sure, according to the study, that humans are the cause of global climate change, leaving only a one-in-a-million chance that we are not the cause. This is referred to as attaining the “gold standard” of certainty. Study lead author Benjamin Santer with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory stated “. . . the narrative out there that scientists don’t know the cause of climate change is wrong.”

This “gold standard” of certainty is a measure normally reserved for particle physics, such as the certainty of the discovery of the Higgs boson particle confirmed in 2012. Technically speaking, the scientific conclusion is stronger than a one-in-a-million chance. This result reaches what is referred to as the 5-sigma confidence level. This means that if the result were due to chance and the experiment determining its cause were repeated 3.5 million times then it would be expected to see the strength of the conclusion in the result no more than once. In short, five-sigma corresponds to a probability of about 1 in 3.5 million that global warming is not human-caused.

Bottom line: the discussion has moved past questions about whether global climate change is happening and whether it is caused by human beings. The answer to both is unequivocally and emphatically yes. The next logical question pertains to urgency, though that has been answered as well. For example, to quote from the Center for Climate and Security:

“The Trump Administration alone has issued three Worldwide Threat Assessments that acknowledge the security risks of climate change, three Department of Defense reports on climate change, three GAO [Government Accountability Office] reports on climate and security, and a USAID report on global fragility and climate risks. All have been produced through comprehensive processes with rigorous reviews. President Trump also signed into law a 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that stated: Changing climate is a ‘direct threat’ to U.S. national security. Further, at least twenty-one senior defense officials during the current Administration have publicly highlighted the security risks of climate change, including the former Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

The time to act is right now and the best way to act is through a Green New Deal, which represents a number of solutions that combined reach the scale of the problem. Let’s get to work addressing this dire, global issue and ignore the climate deniers and climate delayers with their heads in the sand. Posterity will judge us by what we do right now!

Eric Engle


Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action