Understanding and assessing projected future climate change for Nebraska and the great plains

Robert Oglesby, Deborah Bathke, Donald Wilhite, Clinton Rowe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The short answer is no, certainly not among climate scientists, those who have actual expertise in the study of climate and climate change. For more than a decade, there has been broad and overwhelming consensus among the climate science community that the humaninduced effects on climate change are both very real and very large. The debate in 2015 is restricted to how these changes will play out- for example, what impact reduced Arctic sea ice will have on midlatitude storms and weather. It is true that a number of PhD- level scientists have spoken out very publicly and vocally against the actuality of human impacts on climate. It is important to realize that in virtually every one of these cases, the PhD is in a field of study not related to climate science. Although they may be distinguished in their own fields, they have no expertise in climate and climate change. Therefore, they are just stating their own personal opinions. When genuine climate scientists discuss these issues, however, they are giving you their informed professional judgment based on their scientific expertise. The fact that climate chane has become a highly politicized issue has no bearing whatsoever on the reality of human- induced climate changes. Politics- or personal beliefs- are not part of the evidence- based scientific process, and we cannot simply legislate away the reality of human impacts on the climate system. However, we can develop policies that mitigate the magnitude of human- induced climate change and help society adapt to the impacts that are inevitable. Many of these political pundits who deny climate change oft en make the claim that the climate models are too uncertain to be trusted, therefore the humaninduced effects on climate change do not exist. In addition to the obvious logical fallacy of concluding uncertainty about an effect implies the effect must not exist, these pundits fail to recognize that we do not need climate models to tell us that climate change is real and happening rapidly all around us. The evidence is overwhelming in the atmosphere, in the ocean, on land, and where there is still ice (at least for now). We only use the models to attempt to simulate these changes and project them forward through the remainder of this century. Indeed, by far the largest source of uncertainty is in the greenhouse gas emission reality that will unfold in coming decades. This in turn has nothing to do with climate models and everything to do with human behavior. In other words, are we as individuals, nations, and the world as a whole willing or not to do something about global warming?

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-107
Number of pages11
JournalGreat Plains Research
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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