In a recent CNN interview, Ted Cruz claimed that, “Climate change, as they have defined it, can never be disproved, because whether it gets hotter or whether it gets colder, whatever happens, they’ll say, well, it’s changing, so it proves our theory.”
There’s another theory that fits every situation: It’s called the theory of God. No matter what, he is always the answer.
But climate change is actually easier to see and prove than the existence of a supreme being. Like the human body, the earth maintains a relatively constant temperature, balancing the energy coming in from the sun and the energy radiated back into space. We can be thankful for the naturally-occurring greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and water, which have helped sustain our warmer, life-inducing conditions. If we had no atmosphere, our planet’s average surface temperature would be around 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
We really don’t need degrees in chemistry or environmental science to realize that anthropogenic activities can and do result in changes to our environment, even increases in temperatures. Let’s start with something we all know. Carbon monoxide cannot be seen, heard or felt by humans, yet we can all agree that it exists and that it is harmful. What happens when you close your garage door and start your car? Your car’s engine will produce carbon monoxide because it cannot get enough air to complete combustion, resulting in C + ½ O2 . The air in your garage becomes a toxic cocktail for you to breathe, and it’s a direct result of a human activity.
We know that what comes out of the tailpipe of one car can change the air within a space in a short amount of time. Now take millions of cars and put them into the garage of our atmosphere, our breathing space, and let them run nonstop. Although carbon monoxide is still present in our exhaust, the bigger threat coming out of our tailpipes is CO2, which acts as a blanket, trapping heat inside our atmosphere. For each gallon of gas burned, it’s a measureable fact that twenty pounds of CO2 are emitted. Every year, those of us who drive are responsible for tons of CO2 emissions. Just as clouds act as a cover, reducing the solar heat that reaches us from above on cloudy days, greenhouse gases trap and redirect infrared radiation back to the planet, reducing the heat that is transferred out. But this is not the only problem. Carbon dioxide has a 100-year life, so the emissions we spew today will outlive us and will be a problem for our kids and grandkids.
If some folks still need convincing (not us, of course, but perhaps some of our coworkers or friends), they can try this experiment: Take two large glass jars and place a thermometer inside each jar. Cover the opening of the first jar with a glass plate. Leave the second glass jar uncovered. Expose the jars to sun and record the temperature every fifteen minutes for an hour. The covered jar will be the warmest because the plate traps the sun’s energy and increases the temperature, just as the “CO2 blanket” does in our atmosphere. The same effect happens in our cars on sunny days.
We can see that climate change is not a hoax by the liberal media. We can and do have an effect on our environment. The fact that the scientific community has shifted its focus from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change” shows an ethical and honest approach. As we add new information and understandings, we should refine our understanding of the world around us. That’s what honest people are supposed to do.
According to the 2013 Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, 70% of Texans believe that global warming is happening. More than half of us believe that the U.S. should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, and 69% of us believe that individuals should be doing more to address the issue.
Mr. Cruz, along with many of our state’s politicians, do not represent the majority of us but rather a relatively small and well-organized vocal minority—The Tea Party. Our representatives realize that, in Texas, these unhappy folks will throw money, effort and votes their way. This is too bad for all of us, especially in a state that emits more greenhouse gases than any other in our nation. We, of all states, should be addressing the issues.
But we cannot make a difference if our most influential leaders claim that climate change is just a hoax. What will it take to get our politicians and their posse on board? Do we want to leave our children with problems we created, or do we want to acknowledge the issues and work together?