Climate Change Is A Real Problem To Honest Scientists And To Business

The scientific evidence for climate change is quite overwhelming. As disturbing as it is to open-minded, rational people who accept scientific evidence, this is far more of a problem to those who profit from the sale of petroleum and/or hold a philosophy that the market as opposed to government provides the best solution to all problems. This leaves global warming denialists in the position having to deny the scientific evidence, concoct bizarre conspiracy theories involving scientists (including fabricating a “Climategate” scandal which didn’t hold up to scrutiny), promote published  in the right-wing media based upon junk-science denying climate change, or attack Al Gore (who, while doing valuable work to publicize the issue, is not what the issue is about).

Conspiracy theorists on the right believe that climate change is actually part of a conspiracy to undermine capitalism by leftists. Among the many things which these right wingers fail to understand that, other than a tiny minority, it is liberals who are trying to preserve our market system in a manner which actually works to benefit the nation while opposing conservative policies which are harmful to the economy. Climate change, while considered a hoax by those on the anti-science right, is seen as a real problem  by scientists who have interpreted the data as well as businesses which are affected, as seen in the two stories which follow.

The wonderful thing about science, as opposed to views based upon ideology which dominate the right wing, is that the evidence is out there for anyone to evaluate. Richard Muller, a physicist who was skeptical about climate change, decided to go back and analyze the data, hoping to find that the right wing claims of errors in the previous analysis is correct. Brad Plumer summarized his findings:

Muller’s stated aims were simple. He and his team would scour and re-analyze the climate data, putting all their calculations and methods online. Skeptics cheered the effort. “I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong,” wroteAnthony Watts, a blogger who has criticized the quality of the weather stations in the United Statse that provide temperature data. The Charles G. Koch Foundation even gave Muller’s project $150,000 — and the Koch brothers, recall, are hardly fans of mainstream climate science.

So what are the end results? Muller’s team appears to have confirmed the basic tenets of climate science. Back in March, Muller told the House Science and Technology Committee that, contrary to what he expected, the existing temperature data was “excellent.” He went on: “We see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups.” And, today, the BEST team has released a flurry of new papers that confirm that the planet is getting hotter. As the team’s two-page summary flatly concludes, “Global warming is real.”Here’s a chart comparing their findings with existing data:

The BEST team tried to take a number of skeptic claims seriously, to see if they panned out. Take, for instance, their paper on the “urban heat island effect.” Watts has long argued that many weather stations collecting temperature data could be biased by being located in cities. Since cities are naturally warmer than rural areas (because building materials retain more heat), the uptick in recorded temperatures might be exaggerated, an illusion spawned by increased urbanization. So Muller’s team decided to compare overall temperature trends with only those weather stations based in rural areas. And, as it turns out the trends match up well. “Urban warming does not unduly bias estimates of recent global temperature change,” Muller’s group concluded.

While the petroleum industry and conservative movement both have a vested interest in denying climate change, regardless of the evidence, people in other industries are more likely to be concerned about how climate change will affect their businesses. Scientists working for Starbucks recognize that this is a problem which can impact their business:

Forget about super-sizing into the trenta a few years from now: Starbucks is warning of a threat to world coffee supply because of climate change.

In a telephone interview with the Guardian, Jim Hanna, the company’s sustainability director, said its farmers were already seeing the effects of a changing climate, with severe hurricanes and more resistant bugs reducing crop yields.

The company is now preparing for the possibility of a serious threat to global supplies. “What we are really seeing as a company as we look 10, 20, 30 years down the road – if conditions continue as they are – is a potentially significant risk to our supply chain, which is the Arabica coffee bean,” Hanna said.

It was the second warning in less than a month of a threat to a food item many people can’t live without.

New research from the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture warned it would be too hot to grow chocolate in much of the Ivory Coast and Ghana, the world’s main producers, by 2050.

Hanna is to travel to Washington on Friday to brief members of Congress on climate change and coffee at an event sponsored by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The coffee giant is part of a business coalition that has been trying to push Congress and the Obama administration to act on climate change – without success, as Hanna acknowledged.

The coalition, including companies like Gap, are next month launching a new campaign – showcasing their own action against climate change – ahead of the release of a landmark science report from the UN’s IPCC.

Hanna told the Guardian the company’s suppliers, who are mainly in Central America, were already experiencing changing rainfall patterns and more severe pest infestations.

Taking action to limit the damage from climate change is not part of a conspiracy to overthrow capitalism as paranoid conspiracy theorists on the right believe. Taking action is necessary to preserve our market economy.

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