You can’t deny it — or rather, you can, but you have to ignore all the evidence. Here’s a list of seven climate hotspots where the shifts are already obvious: southern Spain, Bangladesh, Malawi, the Svalbards in Norway, Brazil, the Philippines, and so the Americans don’t wander off and wonder where those places are, New York. They’re all depressing, but I found the news about the Amazon to be most discouraging.
Perhaps most ominous is the fact that a positive feedback loop appears to be in play. As the Amazon dries, Nobre says, tropical forest will gradually shift to savanna, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and further adding to global warming.
“When we see a dry season of over four months or deforestation of more than 40 percent then there is no way back. Trees will slowly decay, and in 50 years we would see a degraded savanna. It would take 100–200 years to see a fully fledged savanna.”
The Amazon then would be unrecognizable, along with much of Earth.
We don’t know what all the global consequences of losing the Amazon rain forest would be, but apparently, we’re going to do the experiment and find out.
Meanwhile, there are still people who believe it’s not a problem, and that market forces will compensate for our new hot, dry, stormy, flooded reality. The scientific research is 97% in agreement, which is already remarkable, given how much scientists like to argue. And the other 3% is junk science.
But what about those 3% of papers that reach contrary conclusions? Some skeptics have suggested that the authors of studies indicating that climate change is not real, not harmful, or not man-made are bravely standing up for the truth, like maverick thinkers of the past. (Galileo is often invoked, though his fellow scientists mostly agreed with his conclusions—it was church leaders who tried to suppress them.)
Not so, according to a review published in the journal of Theoretical and Applied Climatology. The researchers tried to replicate the results of those 3% of papers—a common way to test scientific studies—and found biased, faulty results.
Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University, worked with a team of researchers to look at the 38 papers published in peer-reviewed journals in the last decade that denied anthropogenic global warming.
“Every single one of those analyses had an error—in their assumptions, methodology, or analysis—that, when corrected, brought their results into line with the scientific consensus,” Hayhoe wrote in a Facebook post.
But of course it is that flawed 3% our elected officials have chosen to accept, and we don’t have a mechanism for removing deluded idiots from office.