(This article was first published by Liberal America.)
Conservatives love to dismiss the exigencies of climate change with a swipe of their hands, and with claims that the jury is still out on whether or not human activity is responsible for it or not.
As with many other pesky facts, conservatives are immune to reason. They don’t respond to the fact that 99 percent of climate scientists confirmed anthropogenic climate change — climate change caused by humans — with empirical data.
By the way, I don’t suggest phrasing it that way to them.
They don’t respond to the fact that the Departments of Defense, Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Health and Human Services, Interior, State, Transportation, NOAA, the United Nations, and every other developed nation acknowledge climate change’s existential threat to humanity.
They’ve been seduced by the siren song of Fox News, Alex Jones, and Rush Limbaugh. They don’t even realize the Republican lawmakers from where the hackneyed talking points originate secretly acknowledge climate change is real, but rest squarely in the pocket of the fossil fuel lobby. Of course they’re going to tow that line.
Well, now there’s mathematical proof we can add to our repertoire. It’s called the “Anthropocene equation.”
Professor Will Steffen, a climate change expert and researcher at the Australian National University, et. al., published in The Anthropocene Review that for the past 4.5 billion years, astronomical and geophysical factors have dominated the Earth’s system.
However, the past six decades, human factors “have driven exceptionally rapid rates of change in the Earth system,” creating a new anthropological period known as the Anthropocene.
“Human activities now rival the great forces of nature in driving changes to the Earth system.”
So, what’s the equation?
“The rate of change of the Earth system (E) has been a complex function of astronomical (A) and geophysical (G) forces plus internal dynamics (I): Earth’s orbit around the sun, gravitational interactions with other planets, the sun’s heat output, colliding continents, volcanoes and evolution, among others.“
“If we take a baseline of the last 7000 years, until recently, global temperature decreased at a rate of 0.01 °C per century,” Gaffney says. “The current rate (last 45 years) is a rise of 1.7 °C per century — 170 times the baseline and in the opposite direction. The warmest 12 years since records began have all occurred since 1998…The rate of carbon emissions to the atmosphere is arguably the highest in 66 million years … The staggering loss of biodiversity in recent decades prompted researchers in 2015 to argue that the Anthropocene marks the third stage in the evolution of Earth’s biosphere. Pulling this together, we conclude that the rate of change of the Earth system over the last 40 to 50 years is a purely a function of industrialised societies (H).”
Author and journalist Cynthia Barnett wrote in the Los Angeles Times:
“Regardless of alternative facts, fake news or scientific censorship, nature tells the truth.”
Owen Gaffney concludes his piece with a warning:
Math doesn’t lie. Just remind your Conservative acquaintances of this when they whip up statistics the president concocts off the top of his head, or is poorly conveyed in right-wing hate media.