Rob Horowitz: Time to Take Action on Climate Change
Tuesday, August 07, 2012
A comprehensive study now being released by the Berkley Earth Surface Temperature Project should go along way to persuading people who continue to doubt the science that underlies climate change that it is sound.. The project is headed by Richard Muller, a former so-called climate skeptic prominently quoted for years by opponents of action on climate change. It concludes that the earth’s temperature has increased 21/.2 degrees over the past 250 years, with 60% of that increase occurring over the past 50 years, and that “essentially” all the increase is caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
In n recent opinion piece published in the New York Times, Muller a Professor of Physics at the University of California at Berkeley, wrote “I hope that the Berkley Earth Study will help settle the scientific debate regarding global warming and its human causes” Given that Muller was one of the few credible scientists still expressing skepticism and that these findings, which can be read at www.BerkeleyEarth.org, are so definite, this may well completely settle the issue in the scientific community. For example, Muller’s study examines the issue of the variation of the sun’s light as a result of sunspots as a potential cause of the temperature changes, an alternative theory often cited by skeptics, and demonstrates that the data does not support it.
This groundbreaking new study from an unimpeachable source has important political implications. The Oil Companies and others who oppose any action on climate change have been effective in raising doubts about the science of climate change. Today, a majority of Republicans either don’t believe climate change is happening or believe that it is occurring, but is not caused by human activity. Advocates of action on climate change can use the new findings to move the debate from ‘whether there is a problem’ to 'what do we do about it'.
This will take an aggressive public education campaign to disseminate these findings and to engage the people who shape public opinion—journalists, opinion leaders and public officials-in an ongoing conversation about them.
Public opinion will not change overnight. But to move from a scientific consensus that climate change is a real problem to a political consensus that reflects this view, a persistent effort to aggressively push back on the doubts that have been raised about the reality of global warming is essential. .This is the first step to laying the groundworkfor the sweeping and politically difficult actions that will be required to achieve a solution.
Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.
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