“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
2011 was the year where we put more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than ever before. A staggering 31.6 billion tonnes (also known as metric tons) of the stuff, thanks to our addiction to fossil fuels: coal, oil, and natural gas.
What might be even more concerning statistics: how much carbon dioxide has been added globally in total and what’s happening to that trend each year. The graph to the left shows the score, and it’s not pretty. Over the last half century, the total amount is an unfathomable one trillion tonnes, according to the US Department of Energy.
The Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center estimates that about 76 percent comes from the combustion of coal and oil, and another 20 percent from natural gas. The remaining amounts to round up to 100 percent come from cement production and gas flaring.
So much for the facts. What about the scientific opinion? The US National Academy of Sciences has stated that climate change is very likely a direct result from these emissions:
“Climate change is occurring, is very likely caused primarily by the emission of greenhouse gases from human activities, and poses significant risks for a range of human and natural systems. … The sooner that serious efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions proceed, the lower the risks posed by climate change, and the less pressure there will be to make larger, more rapid, and potentially more expensive reductions later.”
The National Academy of Sciences was started in 1863 as an Act of Congress signed by President Abraham Lincoln. It provides independent and non-partisan advice to the government on issues related to science and technology. It’s best to think of them as the “scientific advisors to the the nation.” They receive no compensation for their efforts. There is also no other national body of scientific advisors to provide such opinion to the US government, so what they say should hold some weight. According to their website, “The Academy’s service to government has become so essential that Congress and the White House have issued legislation and executive orders over the years that reaffirm its unique role.”
Incidentally, every other national scientific organization around the world with a similar role to the NAS has made similar statements indicating that the majority of scientists do indeed believe that our emissions are the main culprit for global warming.
When facts and scientific opinion both tell us that our emissions are concerning and causing problems, we really should be listening to them. I know there are doubters and skeptics out there who feel that business-as-usual is perfectly fine. For the life of me, I just can’t see how this information can’t make them doubt the tough stance they take on this issue.