The Politics of Climate Change

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Five years ago, when studying climate systems my lecturer told us not to discount the beliefs of the sceptic. This puzzled me greatly. Climate sceptics are people that believe climate change is a natural process and not induced by humankind.

Why was this highly intelligent academic telling us to listen to the sceptics?

Later, it became obvious that for us to reach our own valid conclusions we needed to study the views of everyone. So, this is what we did. I learnt to step back and thoroughly assess all data, information and studies available.

On the one hand, sceptics were saying that during our last inter-glacial (called the eemian) temperatures were 2 degrees higher than they are today. They argued that natural global climate systems cause a change in temperature (glacial and inter-glacial periods). However, natural systems did not explain the drastic, rapid, unusual rise in global temperatures. This had never been seen before.  

More convincingly, non-sceptics have actual, empirical evidence that temperatures have risen over the past 100 years. This coincided with the industrial revolution and population growth. The rise in temperature correlated with the increase in greenhouse gases (emitted by humans).

While, climate systems are complex and aspects of them unknown. To me, the data clearly shows human – induced climate change to be real and imminent.  

Who believes what?

The British Social Attitudes centre has conducted extensive research into various demographics and their differing beliefs regarding climate change.

Studies have shown:

‘95% think climate change is at least partly due to human activity when asked about relative contributions of human and natural causes.’

Interestingly, younger and more educated citizens are more worried about climate change than older, less educated individuals. This may be because climate change is more likely to effect younger people. Plus it is science based and requires an understanding of data.  

Politics is also tied in with climate change opinions:

‘71% of Remain voters think that climate change is definitely happening, compared with just 53% of Leave voters’

What do you think?

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