Kids Can See It, So Why Can't We?

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
Plato

Sometimes the innocence of children allows the truth to be more clear for them than it is for us as adults. We have filters we use to see the world, and that has an impact on our perception of reality. Yesterday’s blog even pointed that out: if you follow a conservative ideology, you are more inclined to be skeptical of climate change, even if you’re a meteorologist or an atmospheric scientist.

This video is amusing and enlightening all at the same time. If you can get past the corny jokes—I challenge you not to chuckle—you’ll get the message loud and clear. What’s happening to our planet is abundantly clear. Kids can easily see that.

Now it’s up to us adults to figure out what we’re going to do about it.

Can a Pill Fight Climate Change?

Reduce, reuse and recycle. Cut back on your transportation. Use greener sources of energy. All of these help to reduce emissions and fight global warming and climate change. But can a simple pill also be part of the solution? Well, if it can help stop a cow from belching methane it can. Apparently the methane generated from cattle accounts for four percent of our greenhouse gas emissions, and German scientists have created a pill to change that.

According to Winfried Drochner, professor of animal nutrition, who has led the ground-breaking project at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart:

Our aim is to increase the wellbeing of the cow, to reduce the greenhouse gases produced and to increase agricultural production all at once. It is an effective way of fighting global warming.

Methane is naturally produced as part of the fermentation process as cattle digest grass and later it’s burped out. But this pill is not only meant to prevent the methane from escaping, it’s also meant to boost the a cow’s metabolism by producing more glucose, in turn helping them to generate more milk. The pill is large, about the size of a fist. It allows microbiotic substances to slowly dissolve inside the cow’s stomach over several months.

In the past 50 years, the amount of methane in our atmosphere has increased six times, and meat consumption is steadily playing an ever-increasing part. But if we can reduce the amount of methane our cattle generate, it can be another small part of the big solution.

Is Climate Change a Moral and Ethical Issue?

Most of the time I write about the science of global warming and climate change, or the political and economic aspects of tackling it. But many argue that the most important aspect of this issue is one of morality. Pope Francis’s recent visit to the US has led people all over the world think about this perspective, perhaps a little more than they used to. This video addresses the morality of acting—or more precisely not acting—on the the problem. You can bet that many will disregard this facet of the issue because it’s yet one more reason we should do something about it and they don’t want us to do that. Even some Republican presidential candidates have been critical of the Pope, stating he should stick to religion.

See what you think.

Five Things Everyone Needs to Know About Climate Change

Bill Nye is one of the most popular teachers of science these days. An engineer by education, he has an excellent grasp on various aspects of science and also an excellent ability to convey those concepts to the general public. That’s the reason he had a successful television show for kids, and why he’s still commonly referred to as “Bill Nye, the Science Guy.”

Here he is on a recent video posted by National Geographic Explorer, describing the five things everyone needs to know about climate change. If you are well versed on the topic then you’ll know this already, but it’s a good simple one-minute description of some very basic facts that people need to get their heads around.

Republicans Believe in Global Warming So Shouldn't Their Presidential Candidates?

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
—George Bernard Shaw

Most people would agree that elected officials should generally reflect their constituents because they represent them in government. So the Republican presidential candidates may want to remember that when they find out the results of a recent poll released last week that shows at least 70 percent of Americans now believe that global warming is real and supported by solid evidence. Why should the Republican candidates care? Because the survey found a dramatic decline in the last year alone in self-identified Republicans who doubt the existence of climate change, from 41 percent down to 26 percent.

According to Barry Rabe, professor of public policy and environmental policy at the University of Michigan, and a co-author of the poll:

The big shift here is amongst Republicans, and it is a huge one. Most survey work has found a gaping divide between self-identified Democrats and Republicans on this issue for many years now. This suggests that those differences still persist, but have declined significantly. We did not anticipate this.

This survey is conducted every spring and fall and found the highest number of believers occurred in 2008, but then those numbers started to drop until the last year. Rabe believes it’s due to the extreme weather Americans have been experiencing and those polled did admit that droughts in the country had a large effect on their attitude toward global warming. According to Rabe:

The drought issue is affecting big regions of the country. Drought is not just a narrow, localized issue now. A lot of people live in areas where there is some degree of drought. People are often responding to their perception of weather or weather experience. Rather than look at scientific journals or U.N. reports, they have a tendency to look at what last summer or winter was like. So the drought issue has gone up dramatically.

This is the first time in seven years that a majority of Republicans (55 percent) believe the evidence behind global warming, with only 16 percent of Republicans now doubting this evidence. Not surprisingly, strong majorities of Democrats (79 percent) and Independents (69 percent) continue to believe in the evidence of global warming.

One point that’s important to appreciate is that the survey only addresses the belief in global warming, not what causes it. So whether or not people believe that our activities such as the combustion of fossil fuels are responsible were not addressed. But this is an important baby step in the right direction for those who previously doubted everything about global warming and climate change. If they can be convinced of the evidence of a warming planet, perhaps they can also be convinced of the scientific explanations about why it’s warming.

But if the majority of Republicans now believe the planet is warming, people like Ted Cruz should stop talking about “the pause” as if it’s accepted by those he anticipates will be voting for him. They need to get on the ball on this one or risk finding themselves even more drastically distanced from their supporting base than they already have been. It’s time for the pendulum to swing back to a more moderate degree of Republican candidate than we’ve had in a long time. The voters are proving that.