Electric car maker Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk recently called humanity’s addiction to burning fossil fuels “the dumbest experiment in history,” and he could not be more right.
Citing a recent UK Met Office report, Time published an article claiming that the global climate will reach record breaking temperatures from the remainder of 2015 through 2016. If this sounds familiar, it’s because the record for “hottest year ever” was previously broken in 2014, the year that barley inched out 2010. In fact, the 10 hottest years on record have all come since 1998. To better understand what’s happening, The Daily Kos provides this year-over-year chart of global temperatures since 1880.
It’s not just temperature changes, however. According to National Geographic, sea levels have risen between 4 and 8 inches in the past century, with an exponential increase of that rate in the past decade.
As per NASA, Earth’s ice sheets are also in a rapid decline. Greenland, for example, has lost between 36 and 60 miles of ice between 2002 and 2006.
The hypothesis here is simple: as humans pour more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, it causes a greenhouse effect which leads to increasing global temperatures, melting ice caps, rising sea levels and other weather related phenomenon.
There is not only mounting evidence to support the above hypothesis, but also a 97% consensus among active climate scientists that “climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities.” The key word here, however, is “likely.”
This brings us back the the stupid experiment we find ourselves running.
As we have learned, the scientific community is rarely, if ever, 100% sure about anything. Climate deniers are quick to point the this “skepticism” as a reason for inaction on the issue of climate change. But as Musk points out, why would we need to be 100% certain before we act? As he put it, “If we don’t find a solution to burning oil for transport, when we then run out of oil, the economy will collapse and society will come to an end. If we know we have to get off oil no matter what, we know that is an inescapable outcome, why run this crazy experiment of changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere and oceans by adding enormous amounts of CO2 that have been buried since the Precambrian Era?”
We are essentially playing Russian roulette with the earth. The smart thing for us to do would be to find sustainable solutions to out energy needs, (such as electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines or hydropower) and fast.