A changed climate: Can we at least agree on that?

Tell me. Are we any closer now to reaching consensus on the reason(s) behind our changing climate than what we were, say, prior to COP-21 – the climate conference held in Paris, France (from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11) last year?

I certainly hope so because with consensus missing, the climate change issue remains divisive.

Okay, so let’s analyze.

According to Webster

The dictionary definition of “climate” is this: “n. 1. the composite or generally prevailing weather conditions of a region, as temperature, air pressure, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, and winds, throughout the year, averaged over a series of years.”1

So far, so good.

ShipTracks_MODIS_2005may11[1]From my own observations about where I live in the San Joaquin Valley, when it comes to climate, since I first landed in Fresno in 1977, I have noticed, and I know this to be a fact (funny though it may sound), the one constant is change. The so-witnessed change has to do with when plants, trees go dormant and the time they emerge from their dormancy state. The period between the former and the latter has grown shorter and shorter. To me, a tell-tale sign regional climate conditions are undergoing change.

So, that a change is evident, I ask myself: ‘Why the change?’ There is something happening in the world prompting this.

Cutting back on carbon

Undergoing change the way the regional climate has, are human-contributing or -inducing factors (the burning of fossil fuels, itself an air-polluting process) to blame? Or, have the alterations evidenced occurred on account of the forces of nature? It’s plausible even that the change is due to the combination and contribution of both.

Understand this too: About a decade prior to the Industrial Revolution’s (IR) beginning circa 1760 in England, the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide occurring naturally was, according to David Archer, author of the recently published paper: “Near Miss: The importance of the natural atmospheric CO2 concentration to human historical evolution,” 278 parts per million of “dry” air. Now, here it is almost one-fifth of the way through the 21st century and atmospheric CO2 concentration is right around an average 400 ppm, an increase in CO2 in the air by 122 ppm.

The two areas – a changing climate and increased atmospheric CO2 concentration – are they related?

HFC, CO2 relief can’t come soon enough

Here on the Air Quality Matters blog this topic has received much attention. Be this as it may, I am still at a loss in terms of my knowing definitively whether consensus on this matter is even close at hand.

That said, I am encouraged that, when it comes to the changing climate, discussion is moving in a consensus-building direction. In this regard, events like COP-21 and the most recent gathering in Vienna, Austria, to reduce hydrofluorocarbon emissions (HFCs) – a greenhouse gas – in the air offer hope.

Notes

  1. Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, “climate” defined, 1991, p. 254

Image above: NASA

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