For a long time, it has been pretty easy to ignore the whole problem of global climate change.
We could tell ourselves it was happening far, far away at the ends of Earth, or that it’s really all just a hoax dreamed up by somebody — nefarious liberals bent on taxing all the good folk to death, or some such.
Few beyond the most dedicated conspiracy theorists are still buying into the latter method of avoidance, however.
Just about everybody with an informed opinion — 97 percent of actual scientists, for example — agrees that climate change is real and is driven primarily by human activity.
The list includes the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Geophysical Union, American Medical Association, American Meteorological Society and The Geological Society of America, to name a few.
It also includes and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA — which note, among other things, the average global surface temperature has increased 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, the 10 warmest years in the 134-year record all have occurred since 2000, with the exception of 1998, and sea level is rising 3.4 millimeters a year.
Worried that these groups all dominated by dupes and shills abetting a vast, amorphous liberal conspiracy? What about the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Department of Defense, both of which acknowledge that human influenced climate change is real and list it among the greatest threats to global peace and stability in general and our own national security in particular?
The questions of whether and why our climate is changing are settled.
The other dodge is that it’s happening somewhere else and will take a long, long time to matter.
That’s false too, as the recent news about a massive coral bleaching at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary shows.
Earlier this month, researchers reported that nearly 50 percent of the coral colonies in the East Flower Garden Bank were bleached, which is caused by the coral’s expulsion of the algae that gives it its pigmentation, sanctuary Superintendent G.P. Schmahl told The Daily News.
Scientists attributed the bleaching to warming water temperatures caused by climate change. Sea surface temperatures have been more than 86 degrees for 85 days in the past four months, according to the administration.
“In recent decades there has been a documented general increase in seawater temperatures associated with climate change and it’s putting coral reefs throughout the world under stress,” Schmahl said.
As the water temperature cools into the winter, the algae should return, Schmahl said. Still, the long period of bleaching could cause some corals to starve and die off, he said.
This year’s coral bleaching event could be the worst in the marine sanctuary’s history.
Climate change is real and our activities are a major contributor to that change.
To argue otherwise is just whistling past the graveyard.
• Michael A. Smith