Rising global temperatures are the cause of a lowered concentration of protein in pollen and could be the cause of a recent uptick in bee deaths.
This and other consequences of human-caused climate change were discussed Oct. 11 at a lecture held by the Hillsdale College Democrats in the wake of several major natural disasters in 2017.
Professor of Physics Kenneth Hayes discussed the warming of the oceans and humanity’s contribution to the greenhouse effect.
“The greenhouse effect provides the cleanest explanation for anthropogenic climate change,” Hayes said. “The measured increase of the heat content of the oceans provides unassailable evidence for it.”
Hayes also said humans’ contribution to climate change, if it continues unchecked, could potentially have consequences such as increasing numbers of wildfires, higher storm intensity, and continued bleaching of the coral reefs.
“Most people have no idea how sensitive life is to temperature,” Hayes said. “Humans can tolerate temperature change, but the Earth as we know it cannot.”
Assistant Professor of Economics Christopher Martin presented on what people could do to solve the problem of climate change economically. Martin explored the idea of a tax on carbon output from manufacturing. He also said an intergovernmental climate agreement with reasonable restrictions on carbon output could reduce human impact.
Martin also said there is still debate about the correct taxation policies for carbon. In order for an intergovernmental climate agreement to be effective, it would need to be binding and would need to require sanctions for countries who broke the agreement.
Senior Elyse Hutcheson, president of the Hillsdale College Democrats, said she was glad the club was able to hold the event and spark discussion about an important topic.
“I just think that climate change is something we don’t talk about enough here, and a lot of the people who are in science agree that it’s an issue, but it’s become so politicized,” Hutcheson said. “That’s why it’s so important that we talk about this.”
Freshman McKenna Towns said Hayes’ description of the potential consequences of climate change was something she hadn’t considered before the lecture.
“Learning about the increase in natural disasters as a result of climate change was really shocking to me,” Towns said. “Natural disasters and the increase of things like fires, floods, and hurricanes — that’s not something people usually think about when it comes to the effects of global warming.”