The realms of science and politics are set to clash yet again as a Republican government lead by Donald Trump and Mike Pence begins to show resistance to certain areas of science, including climate change and embryonic stem cell research.
While the administration shows complete apathy towards science and evidence in some fields, it also shows open hostility towards others–climate change being one of the biggest ones. Now, researchers have revealed that they have developed a new mathematical equation, dubbed the ‘Anthropocene equation,’ that helps calculate just how dramatically humans are changing the Earth’s climate.
Researchers and scientists studying climate change say that global temperatures have typically decreased by 0.01 Celsius per 100 years over the past 7,000 years in what they consider to be the “baseline” rate. This is a stark contrast to the rate that has been observed over the past 45 years–a 1.7 Celsius per century increase caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
The comparison that researchers make in their argument, which has been published in The Anthropocene Review, is the one between Earth’s natural astronomical and geophysical forces that normally influence the planet’s climate over the course of billions of years, and that of human activity.
In this new equation, Earth’s natural forces almost equal out to zero because of how little an effect they have on its climate. But, when we look at mankind’s effect on climate, it can be seen that we are changing the Earth’s climate at a rate that is 170 times faster than the Earth’s own natural forces.
“We are not saying the astronomical forces of our solar system or geological processes have disappeared, but in terms of their impact in such a short period of time they are now negligible compared with our own influence,” says Will Steffen, co-author of the paper.
“While it would seem imprudent to ignore the huge body of evidence pointing to profound risks, it comes at a challenging time geopolitically, when both fact-based world views and even international cooperation are questioned. Nowhere has this been clearer than in the US in recent weeks,” adds co-author Owen Gaffney.
Not only does this new equation give people all over the world an exact number that describes mankind’s dramatic effect on climate change, but it could also help move people to action.
Authors of the study say that “the human magnitude of climate change looks more like a meteorite strike than a gradual change,” and should we ignore the problem or fail to reduce the current rate of climate change, mankind will almost certainly suffer from “societal collapse.”