The Science Behind Climate Change

By The Fairewinds Crew

Fairewinds Energy Education recently received several questions regarding the causes of climate change, specifically the impact that the solar cycle has is having on our climate. We want to share our scientific thoughts with you.

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Fairewinds Energy Education, its board members, and advisors are primarily comprised of researchers, scientists, teachers, professors, and writers as well as attorneys and paralegals. Fairewinds Energy Education firmly believes in the science of human induced climate change along with the vast majority of the scientific community and our scientific colleagues. Humans are rapidly changing the chemical composition of our atmosphere by releasing billions of metric tonnes of CO2, methane, and other greenhouse gases through our over reliance on fossil fuels and gross misuse of land. 

One common misconception that is on the rise is the premise that global warming is caused by an increase of solar activity. According to NASA, 

"since 1978, a series of satellite instruments have measured the energy output of the sun directly. The satellite data show a very slight drop in solar irradiance (which is a measure of the amount of energy the sun gives off) over this time period. So, the sun doesn't appear to be responsible for the warming trend observed over the past several decades" (NASA).

Solar cycles do indeed play a large role in the climate of the planet though, but 

"over the time-scale of millions of years... Changes in the rate of solar heating over the last century cannot account for the magnitude of the rise in global mean temperature since the late 1970s. The evidence shows that although fluctuations in the amount of solar energy reaching our atmosphere do influence our climate, the global warming trend of the past six decades cannot be attributed to changes in the sun" (Union of Concerned Scientists).

Furthermore, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or the IPCC, actually accounts for solar cycles in their data. The IPCC consists of 1,300 independent scientific experts from countries all over the world operating under the auspices of the United Nations.IPCC scientific experts have run simulations of warming trends for the solar cycles as well as solar cycles combined with expected warming from the release of greenhouse gasses and only "when computer models include human-induced heat-trapping gases, they accurately reproduce the observed warming during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries" (Union of Concerned Scientists)The IPCC has concluded there's a more than 95 percent probability that human activities over the past 50 years have warmed our planet (NASA).

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Seventeen of the Eighteen warmest years on a record spanning 136 years have occurred since 2001. The ice sheets are melting at an unheard-of rate, and severe weather events are becoming more and more frequent as evidenced by rising seas and flooding coastal cities. Clearly the world is warming, all the data points to a massive release of greenhouse gasses from human sources as the main factor in this warming trend. It is extremely inconvenient to our current U.S. lifestyle that human actions are causing one of the greatest ecological collapses of all time. It would be much easier and more convenient for all of us to ignore climate change data. We hear people try to pin the blame on natural phenomena rather than facing the reality and making the required lifestyle changes. However, at Fairewinds, we believe in letting the data do the talking and the data is clear, humans are the cause of climate change.

The good news is that we have the means to fix the problem, since it is human activity that is causing climate change. For all of us: our communities, our families, friends, and colleagues, children and grandchildren, is not late to mitigate the worst consequences of climate change. 

Throughout the world, communities need a drastic and rapid overhaul of their transportation and energy sectors, which is why Fairewinds believes that focusing valuable time, money, and resources on nuclear energy creates an incalculable loss – termed an opportunity cost. Then of course humanity faces the inherent risks that exist with the operation of commercial atomic power reactors that have had at least 5 major meltdowns during the last 40-years as well as the numerous atomic test reactor meltdowns like that at the Santa Susana Field Lab and at Sellafield in the United Kingdom. Finally, we all face the necessary and unproven storage of the high-level radioactive waste for more than 250,000 of years. 

Equally disturbing is that climate change will also submit atomic power plants to more frequent and dangerous weather conditions such as forest fires, drought, and flooding. Instead we should be investing in safer and renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and geothermal along with new and proven storage technologies and a complete infrastructure overhaul of our outdated and dangerous grid system to safer and much more efficient micro-grids, which we will discuss in detail later this month. 

These renewable technologies can be deployed much faster and for drastically less money than nuclear power plants, and they also will produce many more jobs throughout the world.  

Thank you for all of your questions. Here at Fairewinds Energy Education, we will continue our research, writing, and scientific studies and we will keep you informed during 2019 as we all work together toward a sound energy production future.