Scott Werts, assistant professor of geology, spoke to students about global warming and climate change. Photo by Frances Parrish • parrishf@mytjnow.com

Get the facts on global warming

Scott Werts, assistant professor of geology, spoke to students about global warming and climate change. Photo by Frances Parrish • parrishf@mytjnow.com

Is global warming a myth or is it really happening? In an event hosted by SEAC and the Vegetarian Society two Winthrop professors and one guest speaker addressed the issue of global warming during the event Climate Change: Fact or Myth? last Monday.

The two professors were Scott Werts, assistant professor of geology who has also served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a hydrogeologist in environmental consulting and Jeffrey Sinn, associate professor of psychology who is currently researching how people identify themselves in terms of being Republican or Democrat can relate to how concerned they are for the environment.

The guest speaker, James Tyson received his Bachelor’s degree in science and environmental chemistry and is a part of the grass-roots organization 350, so named for its goal to get CO2 levels down from 392 parts per million to 350 parts per million.

Additionally, Tyson is cofounder of Catawba Rising Tide which works to target false solutions against climate change and is both corporate sponsored and environmentally friendly. Tyson is currently on the terrorism watch list due to his various environmental advocacy activities, though he reports he has never once used violence. Each speaker took a different angle, according to his area of expertise.

Werts provided hard scientific and statistical evidence of global warming, pointing to graphs and charts as he explained several key concepts. Unfortunately, life today is not adapted to such harsh conditions and at the rate green house gases are infecting our planet there is not enough time to become adapted. Much of the problem is attributed to human activity.

However, there is hope, according to Werts. “IF we can get carbon capped at 1990 levels…we will be looking at stabilization at about 150 parts per million,” Werts said.

Conversely, if humans don’t get a handle on carbon levels by the year 2100 the earth’s atmosphere will be like it was when dinosaurs roamed the earth—-around the time when they were hit by the comets.

Sinn gave some psychological reasons why many people have a hard time accepting climate change. He reported that Conservatives are statistically shown to have a hard time accepting the reality of global warming due to their rejection of social change and tendency to make beliefs to fit their emotional needs.

He also said that the human brain is not designed to be worried about what happens far off into the future (say the year 2100). Additionally, the belief in global warming has somewhat lessoned overall, a phenomena considering the evidence that still remains in support of global warming.

Dr. Sinn said that not just individuals but also corporations are responsible for global warming because corporations at times sacrifice the atmosphere for corporate interests. Other times they admit there is a problem but put the responsibility on the consumers to be the ones who make different choices. James Tyson informed the audience that what he finds important about all of this is not necessarily the facts but what people plan to do about them. Since 97% of scientists belief in the reality of global warming, it is truly happening, and what Tyson hates most is when people say it is too late to do anything about it. “For me, it really comes down to a matter of consent,” Tyson said, citing how inaction is the same as allowing something to happen.

Tyson highlighted some of the projects he and 350 others are working on to get the ball rolling for change. One such project is protesting Bank of America’s support of the coal industry which is the single largest contributor to climate change world- wide. The movement started in Nov. of 2011 as a community project and has quickly grown. More information can be found on their website www.350.org.

Amanda Richards, a junior environmental science major said that she appreciated how Werts broke down the hard facts and data but also appreciated how “[Sinn] broke down the political reasons as to why [global warming] is such a hard problem to fix.”

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