Climate change poses several challenges with many unknown factors. We have the current scientific literature. We also have the evidence of the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM).
The PETM is a climatic event that occurred about 55.8 million years ago. It provides what some scientists consider as an early example of global warming and its consequences.
The Climate Change Stage
Today, climate change exists in a mire of polarizing ideologies that are further complicated by cherry-picking of data and what Dr. Ben Goldacre calls communal reinforcement. Both sides have muddied the waters. This includes those who have accepted it. The language has deteriorated to ad hominen arguments and false dilemma fallacies.
While I have no questions about climate change and the role of humans, I doubt the ability of the global community to come to a consensus. I believe the issue has become too politicized to reconcile. While the scientific community and the often-wrong mass media debate the issue, one thing remains certain. There is one absolute about climate change, and that is conflict.
Evidence for Conflict
One of the most vocal conflicts arose with biofuels. First-generation biofuels used corn and soybeans. It wasn’t long before the outcry of substituting food for fuel started. Putting aside its being a lack of a solution, the argument still holds water when you consider that we only have so much land to farm—whatever the use.
Another conflict reared its ugly head when a study by the University of California reported that the state’s hydropower would have trouble keeping up with demand because of an inability to store water. And if that weren’t enough, those same reservoirs also contribute to climate change through methane emissions.
The latest conflicts are also set in California. And they also involve water. This time, the California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is the battleground. The state was to invest $8 billion in a wetland restoration plan. Instead, the state has cut the original proposal to $300 million with the remainder to fund the state’s aging water infrastructure.
The irony with the hydropower situation is that the solution is also the cause for the problem. With the delta restoration, the solution is scaled back because of the problem already created. Talk about getting kicked while you’re down.
The one certainty of climate change is that it will expose more conflicts. Sometimes, they’ll tread in areas of survival, like water. Other times, they’ll wade into the troubled waters of sustainability and political ideologies. In any case, the fights will likely become bitter and polarized. If we find solutions for climate change in our lifetime, they’ll be hard fought to say the least.