If bad weather seems more extreme than you remember, you might not be wrong. Droughts are becoming more extreme, and hurricanes more damaging, but many have long denied its cause: climate change. The argument is over, though, because science can now link climate change to extreme weather. Take out your research notebook and take notes about what science has to say about the phenomena.
Previously No Conclusive Proof
Throughout the course of its history, climate change has been a widely debated topic. Then came an onslaught of extreme weather. Scientists theorized there was a connection, but conclusive proof was elusive. Scientists observed weather phenomena and reviewed data for years, to no avail, but recently the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has been able to make some connections which have been compiled in three reports the group has issued. These reports are part of a five report series requested by Congress and entitled “America’s Climate Choices.”
What We Know
The reports from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine outline that climate change is real, and that it is caused predominantly by human activities; however, the causal evidence does not show that every extreme weather event can be causally linked to climate change. This doesn’t mean all extreme weather won’t one day be linked to climate change, but, at the moment, science only allows us a glimpse into how our society influences our climate and the world around us.
Currently we know that there are clear links between heat waves, snow storms, heavy rain and droughts, and climate change. For complicated weather events like hurricanes and typhoons, the link isn’t so clear. Many factors need to be evaluated in these events, and our lack of long-term data prevents accurate statistical analysis. What scientists can say is that the intensity and frequency of some types of weather events can be affected by human actions.
Science may not have all the proof needed to show that humans have caused increases in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, but certainly the evidence demonstrates the need for change in human activities. With that in mind, it begs the question, what can be done? The answers are relatively simple, though the implementation is not.
First, a reduction in greenhouse gases is necessary to stabilize carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Next, adaptations should be made to cities and the way we live. The rise of sea levels, powerful hurricanes, and other events are inevitable, and changes should be made to withstand these.
Last, research and analysis must continue so these weather events can be predicted and disaster averted when possible. This research and analysis may also eventually lead to a resolution which will negate all of the human effects on climate change.
Now is the time for scientists to test, experiment, and observe, both in the lab and out of the lab. Picture scientists and students, young and old, grabbing their lab notebooks and dedicating their lives to making the world a safer place. If the best minds concentrate on getting over this hurdle, everyone on planet earth will benefit.
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