Why This Climate Change Scientist Still Has Hope

Even in the face of dire changes and denial

Arctic Sea Ice

Arctic Sea Ice

Coast Guard crew retrieving a bucket of supplies during an arctic mission in 2011.NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Ted Scambos has been studying our climate for well over 25 years — even venturing out on what might have been the slowest road trip ever across Antarctica to gather data. He is the lead scientist at the National Snow & Ice Data Center, and as he's gathered data and published papers over the years focused on our climate and climate change, he's been faced with a deluge of messages from climate change deniers.

In an article published on ResearchGate, Scambos writes about how after all this time, 22 years after he himself faced the reality of human-induced climate change, he is even more hopeful about our ability to cope with climate change –– something that 97 percent of scientists believe is likely due to human activity.

If you want to quibble, fine, let’s agree to this: sometime in the first two decades of this century, the warming of our planet from greenhouse gas emissions went from something models predicted and scientists detected, to something palpable, a clear and present change that no observant person can ignore. ... Having been at many faculty meetings, I can tell you that it is well-nigh impossible to get 97 percent of scientists to agree to a simple coffee break, much less an interpretation of data. This alone should indicate the level of proof that has been attained.

- ResearchGate

Even though we've seen record-setting heat, ocean acidification and more, many people refuse to believe those 97 percent of scientists who agree that humans are influencing the climate. But Scambos notes that amidst all that agreement, and the backlash to it, something new has emerged, something that wasn't there 22 years ago. There is now a global push for clean technologies and energy alternatives that weren't there before; the burst of innovation from academics and across industries give him hope.

Global warming is no longer an anticipation. It is no longer something for children or grandchildren to worry about. This is it. We have created the global warming era, now. And yet, almost unnoticed, the tools to solve the issue have begun to appear. The deniers and delayers have lost simply because they could not hide the economic logic of addressing the problem, or convince entrepreneurs not to invent. Twenty-two years ago, as I walked somberly back to my office, it appeared that we had no tools in hand, no path toward solving the challenge of global warming. Today we have many options, and most importantly, we have a global generation of people who understand world climate change and are looking eagerly for ways to mitigate it.

- ResearchGate

Read Scambos' article in its entirety here.