Trust science when it comes to hurricanes, eclipses, climate change

Beyond the Curb


Published:

Hurricane Irma was a threat. We heard that from the weather forecast. Preparation was under way. We kept watching the forecast to see how much of a hit we were going to get. We knew the eye of the storm had shifted west, but we still were looking at a Category 4 hurricane arriving in Florida. Decisions had to be made on how best to stay safe and protect property.

In the early days, when there wasn’t access to this kind of information or tracking data, hurricanes would crash land without warning and people would get hit with no chance to prepare for what was coming.

Even though the weather has always been important for its impact in lives and businesses, it was just in the 1800s that scientists started to seriously study the atmosphere. Once telegraphs made sharing timely weather observations from distant locations possible, weather forecasting became a reality.

In 1870, Congress created a national weather service in the U.S. Army Signal Service’s Division of Telegrams and Reports for the Benefit of Commerce. But, it was not until 1898 that a hurricane warning network was established.

We have to thank science for the innovations and the government for applying science to our protection and to broaden our ability to understand the world.

Recently, thanks to science, we were able to safely experience a total solar eclipse because we knew the eclipse path. We trusted the information shared and relied on science to pick the best spot to experience totality. Whether one was prepared for it or not, the eclipse happened at the date, times and locations (timeanddate.com) as predicted by scientists.

Science has brought about awareness and knowledge of many things to help us in our daily lives, our preservation and advancement. Climate change is the latest development.

As in any pressing issue, scientists see the urgency in acting on climate change. Astronomer Phil Plait wrote recently: “Climate change due to global warming is one of the greatest threats facing us as a species.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson, scientist and astrophysicist, is concerned that “climate change had become so severe that the country might not be able to recover. […] What will it take for people to recognize that a community of scientists are learning objective truths about the natural world and that you can benefit from knowing about it?” he added.

Businesses recognize it and are taking action.

In one of its latest reports, the World Economic Forum announced that “chocolate giant Mars, has pledged $1 billion to fight climate change.” Mars recognizes that inaction can be costly for their business. Its chief sustainability officer says that “it's time for companies to accelerate their game and work together, and work together with governments and civil society. This is a world issue, and it requires all actors to work together."

Businesses are listening, but why aren’t we all?

According to Reuters, “68 percent of Americans want the United States to lead global efforts to slow climate change, and 72 percent agree ‘that given the amount of greenhouse gases that it produces, the United States should take aggressive action to slow global warming.’”

Just a few days ago “the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment providing funding for the U.N.'s Framework Convention on Climate Change in a spending bill for the State Department” (Washington Examiner), so it seems that the Senate is in line with the majority of Americans and is trying to allocate resources to address climate change.

Unfortunately, “the House's version of the State Department funding bill does not contain money for the U.N. climate agency, so the two chambers will have to reconcile the differences in the final legislation.”

Solid science tells us that anthropogenic global climate change, like hurricanes and eclipses, is occurring whether we believe it or not. Delaying action will not prevent the consequences of climate change from affecting us;
it will merely give us less time and fewer options to work with. 

Email Marcia Booth at Marcia@3RsAndBeyond.org.