UCSD marine researcher dispels myths about global warming

DENIERS (See bottom of article for photo credit.)

McKenzie Sixt

Tim Barnett spoke with Saddleback College students Wednesday about global warming myths and necessary actions to minimize the climate change effects on future generations.

Barnett, a research marine physicist at the University of California, San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, explained in his presentation there are three aspects to global warming including physical, biological, and chemical.

The physical aspect refers to the glaciers and sea ice rapidly melting all around the world, from Alaska to Patagonia. Greenland’s glaciers present a threat to sea levels and seaside cities. If Greenland’s glaciers melted, sea levels would rise seven meters. According to Barnett, the cities of New York, Miami and Amsterdam would be no more.

Biologically, earth’s species live in delicate ecosystems. As climate change occurs more species are going extinct as their habitats can no longer support their survival needs.

“The key to global warming is in the oceans,” Barnett said.

He went on to explain that if the chemical balance of oceans is increasingly disturbed many species will not be able to survive. The extinction of certain species will directly affect humans if people do not change to protect the environment.

“The current generation increased methane and carbon dioxide emissions to levels like nothing before,” Barnett said. “In the future levels are projected to increase to unprecedented levels.”

In order to encourage people to change their ways to minimize the affects of global warming Barr suggested scientists need to look at how they are presenting the message of global warming and try to present a less dooming image.

Some students responded with a discouraged attitude after hearing that irreversible environmental damage has already occurred.

“If we know we’re screwed no matter what, why should we change our ways?” one student asked.

“For future generations,” said Renee Garcia, an anthropology instructor at Saddleback, responding directly. “This is a global issue, humans are affecting our own environment. We need to take care of the environment for it to take care of us.”

Environmental impact will be worse if nothing is done now to counter the future damage, Barnett said. However, getting people to fully believe in global warming enough to commit them to change is difficult.

Government lobbyists, endorsed by big companies such as Exxon, use propaganda to dispel much of the evidence scientists have presented in support of the global warming theory, Barnett said.

People who disagree with the theory of global warming, Barnett refers to as “deniers.” The deniers believe many myths about global warming.

“Such dramatic levels present a bleak future for the next generation,” said Jessica Barr, 34, psychology, who attended the discussion.

Some common myths include that it must be the sun and cosmic rays causing the warming, it is just natural warming, and that winter was too snowy for the world to be warming.

These myths are put forth by “well organized and well funded pseudo scientists running a misinforming campaign,” Barnett said.

Scientists are about data and have a difficult enough time presenting global warming and climate change in an appealing way because it is not an appealing matter. The myths make it more difficult to convert people to change.

“Global warming is a problem for tomorrow’s generation to solve,” Barnett said. “My generation has been poor stewards and mother nature has taken it in stride, but the next generation is going to get paid back in full.”

Photo credit:

paul nine-o “BANKSY Global Warming“/Flickr.com