While reading the news, I constantly see headlines and ledes such as the following:
"While the cumulative effects of rising global temperatures have already caused dramatic changes to our planet..."
Yet when I read the climate science literature, I don't find these alarming headlines backed up by evidence. Quite the contrary.
Much of the alarmist attitude in the press comes from the IPCC, whose charter is to research anthropogenic climate change and propose international policies to deal with it. It is clearly documented that IPCC lead authors have censored articles from their contributing authors and have modified conclusions from contributors after they were approved for publication.
Perhaps this is the source of the confusion, or at least one source. Certainly, concentration on political and economic influences, such as the recent spat over The Heartland Institute document theft, obfuscates the underlying science, grabbing the headlines with lurid stories of undercover schemes, mudslinging and name calling. Whether or not this is deliberate on either side, these actions function to dilute and distort the science of climate variation.
While it is certainly true that human activities modify climate, and is certainly true that atmospheric CO2 absorbs energy and reradiates it into the atmosphere, there is no evidence demonstrating a causal relationship of human produced CO2 and other greenhouse gases to the observed rise in global average surface temperature. The connection is intuitive rather than documented.
This confusion is further exacerbated by continuing claims for an anthropogenic global warming (AGW) source for every bit of perceived weather excess that comes along, such as the recent tornado outbreak.
Since human produced CO2 accounts for only 3% of the total increase of CO2 in the atmosphere annually, will an international effort to "de-carbonize" the global economy through the construction of windfarms and solar panel arrays in the few remaining undeveloped parts of the world significantly modify observed climate variation? Not bloody likely.
Meanwhile, human activity continues to release truly harmful pollution into the air, land and water, destroy critical habitat for native species, draw down water tables and cover the surface of the planet under a layer of asphalt, cement and steel. There's no question about these vary real effects of human growth and development.
There is also no question about how to stop the destruction caused by human growth and development: stop human population growth and begin its decline, stop human economic growth and develop steady state economies, stop the release of polluting substances into the biosphere, take no more resources than can be replenished through natural processes and produce no more waste than can be dispersed through natural processes.
We know how to do these things. Rather than wringing our hands in angst about possible future climate change over which we have no control, let's do something about those destructive effects of human "civilization that we understand and know how to correct.
If we clean up our own nests, we will contribute less to AGW and, at the same time, become more resilient to accommodate inevitable natural climate variation.