The planet cycles between warm and cool periods, and has since things settled down from the earliest formation. The geologic record points this up handily. At the moment, it's simply warming up from the last cool period and we're stuck in the middle of it.
The episode of Nova
showed the cycle of CO2 in the atmosphere and the cycle of average annual temperatures over the last several hundred thousand years as recorded by the deepest glaciers in Greenland and other Arctic areas. The graphs were not only identical in their shapes, but consistently within a defined band, similar to the wave profiles you see on a heart monitor. Clearly there were self-correcting natural mechanisms that kept our planet habitable for a critical mass of species.
Until the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Not only has the amount of fossil fuel accelerated the rate at which the percentage of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing, and with it the average annual temperatures, but human activity over the last 50 years has pushed the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere far beyond the historical peak percentages. In other words, we have put far more CO2 into the atmosphere than the natural mechanisms can handle. Furthermore, we rely on plants for ALL of our food, including meat from such animals as pigs, chicken and cattle because they're raised on produce.
Layer on top of that what global warming will do to the availability of water and the ability of homo sapiens to survive outside of their built structures and ultimately at all is more than questionable!
We cannot rely on free market mechanisms to correct these imbalances; as the ultimate externalities these problems will ultimately require governmental action on an international scale. These efforts needed to have begun as soon as the problem was detected decades ago. The longer we delay, the more drastic the corrections will need to be and the less effective.
In short, we need leaders who
- Believe this is actually happening
Are willing to listen to scientists and act on their advice
Are able to work with our allies
Deliver bad news to the nation
Impose new restrictions on business and therefore, ultimately, everyone of us official taxpayers.