Why climate change is such a tough problem

HOTTEST YEARLast year was the hottest year on record for the continental United States (lower 48 states).  There were cool spots elsewhere in the world, but overall it was another very hot year.


Given the fact of global climate change, why is it such a hard problem to address?

First, the facts are not readily available to the average person, especially here in the United States.  You can find all the information you need on the Internet, but in order to do that, you have to first realize that you need to look for the information, and you need to be able to separate bogus information from fact.  It is hard for the average, hard-working person to find time to do this, and the need is not obvious, especially if you rely on Fox News and talk radio as your main sources of information.

Second, there is nothing to be done to to prevent the droughts, storms, melting glaciers and rising oceans which now afflict us.   What we do now about greenhouse gasses will not affect us, it will affect future generations, just as what is going on now is the result of the actions of past generations.

Third, action on global climate change requires an effort on not just one nation, but the whole world acting together.  It will go little good for the United States to limit greenhouse gasses if China does not set any limits.  Or vice versa.

So we’re asking people to become well-informed about a subject in which the facts do not seem obvious.  We are asking them to put the needs of future generations ahead of their own desires and needs.  We are asking them to trust strangers to voluntarily do the same things.  That is a lot to ask.  But it is necessary if our descendants are to have liveable planet to inhabit.

If I had the power of a dictator, I would create a world governing body with the powers of the World Trade Organization or the International Standards Organization, but which would set standards for goods in world commerce based on their impact on the climate.  I know this is unrealistic.  Do you have a better idea?

Here are some links related to high 2012 tempeatures in the United States.

2012 Hottest Year on Record, NOAA Confirms

U.S. seared during hottest year on record so far

NOAA: 2012 was hottest year for US with temperatures reported off-the-charts

Here are some links related to the science of climate change

Why Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong

Climate Change: the Evidence

The Discovery of Global Warming

[Added 1/14/13]

Here is more about the world’s changing weather.

Extreme Weather Grows in Intensity and Frequency Around the World

Roads Melt, Gas Evaporates in Australia’s Unprecedented Heat Wave

[Added 1/16/13]

Draft of US climate assessment report released

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