Mike Brandolino
Sep 29, 2011

Is climate change real?

Climate change is a highly contentious issue among individuals, environmentalists, industries, governments and nations. Some claim that climate change is real and the earth is headed for another massive extinction, while others state that it is a farce.

The modern-day cause of this phenomenon is said to be a direct result of the accumulation of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. Increasing carbon dioxide levels have been attributed to human-facilitated causes, such as industrial and vehicle emissions and deforestation.

Emissions control

Many governments have designed and implemented laws and regulations to reduce the extent of greenhouse gases that can be emitted by industries and vehicles. Unfortunately, emerging industrial nations have very few, if any, emissions or environmental laws and regulations in place.

Since emerging industrial nations are not really forced to adhere to many environmental regulations, these nonexistent compliance costs result in “soft” dollar savings (non-expenditure costs that result in overall savings and profits). Since environmental regulations are nonexistent, there is no need for the industries to invest in and install expensive pollution control devices on smokestacks and water discharge pipes. Soft dollars do not contribute directly to the bottom line, but they increase profitability.

The industries in emerging nations have fewer overhead costs in the way of environmental compliance and regulations, so they are able to produce, export and sell a wide variety of products at very low cost. Industries that have compulsory environmental regulations have higher operating costs, which are passed along to the consumer.

Nothing ever really comes without a cost. The global costs of inexpensive products are air and water pollution, which affects everyone on the planet. These adverse results are never part of a commercial marketing campaign and are hidden from public view. 


Tropical rainforests in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia are being cut down at a frenetic pace. These areas are being used for agriculture (subsistence and commercial-scale), timber harvesting (exotic and commercial wood) and mining. The tropical rainforest nations have laws and regulations for these land clearance activities; however, financial funding and enforcement staff are severely limited. So, in addition to the legal and regulated natural resource extractions, many indiscriminate and illegal harvesting activities are occurring.

Why is deforestation a concern to the rest of the world?

The tropical rainforests can be thought of as the “lungs of Earth.” The abundant vegetation in these areas produces oxygen for us to breathe, while sequestering (absorbing, trapping and storing) greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide.

Deforestation reduces the amount of vegetation, which in turn reduces the amount of carbon dioxide that is removed from the atmosphere. Increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are believed to be contributing to increasing the average daily air and water temperatures all over the world. In effect, the increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are contributing to climate change. 

Carbon credits

Greenhouse gas removal can be accomplished by using carbon credit funds to replant trees, which will eventually help to absorb and remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Another strategy is to purchase tracts of tropical rainforests for long-term or permanent preservation, which also helps to reduce the accumulation of greenhouse gases.

Carbon offsets and credits are a means for industries and governments to “pay to pollute.” Carbon trading allows anyone to purchase pollution-offset credits. One credit is equal to one tonne (metric ton) of carbon dioxide or equivalent greenhouse gas removed from the atmosphere.

These types of regulatory credits allow industries to emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, thus offsetting their emissions. If an industry has unused or unneeded credits, they can be sold to another facility that has exhausted its credit supply and needs them. Emission credits are usually purchased at auction, where industries set the credit prices in bidding wars.

Sometimes, environmental organizations become involved in the bidding to purchase emission credits. Environmental organizations do not have the financial resources to compete with industries that are purchasing large volumes of emissions credits. But more often than not, their small emission credits purchases are more symbolic in nature than truly effective in the overall scheme of things. The environmental organizations, however, retain the emission rights and never use them, effectively removing some pollutants from the atmosphere. It is a moral victory.

Carbon offset and credit purchases are kind of a method of back-pedaling to right the wrongs of the past and a way to appear environmentally conscious and responsible. Many individuals, industries and governments have bought into the doctrine that, by purchasing carbon credits, they are saving the planet. Is there any truth and validity to this dogma? Perhaps.

Planting trees, reforestation and making land purchases to protect and preserve forests are always good ways of being a responsible global citizen. But, are there underlying and ulterior motives behind the carbon credit financial market?

Again, perhaps.

When industries and governments purchase carbon credits, this action gives them the ability for an enormous amount of self-promotion to display to their customers and the world that they are doing something good for society and the planet. More often than not, this strategic marketing plan works and sales increase.

Carbon offsets and credits are great ways to promote conservation and preservation and to educate people about the need to protect the global environment.
Climate change

So, back to the original question, “Is climate change real?”.

Short answer: it all depends on whom you ask. There are several reasons for this vague response. A few reasons from each side of the argument follow.

Proponents make these assertions:

  • Average daily temperatures are increasing all over the world.
  • Polar ice is melting.
  • Greenhouse gas, such as carbon dioxide, levels in the atmosphere are increasing.
  • Ocean waters are getting warmer.
  • Deforestation is contributing to climate change.
  • Climate change is dramatically affecting weather patterns, and more destructive weather events, such as hurricanes (typhoons) and floods, are occurring more often than in the past.

Opponents assert the following:

  • There is limited data available. Daily global weather data collection is a relatively new science, having begun in the 1800s.
  • We do not know if the temperature changes are part of a short- or long-term planetary environmental and weather cycle, a kind of cycle that occurred earlier in history.
  • The data is faulty, flawed, manipulated or not reliable.
  • It is a scam to promote carbon credit trading.
  • Climate change hype gets grant money.
  • Climate change is reactionary and unfounded.

Whether or not you believe that global climate change is occurring and life is heading towards another mass extinction, as some environmental radicals state, or that climate change is a hoax perpetuated by some savvy financial schemers, one thing is clear. We can all probably agree that pollution controls and regulations must be consistent and enforced all over the world.

Global responsibility and stewardship

Society needs to be responsible and maintain stewardship over the planet. We, as a global community, need to develop and implement a worldwide emission reduction program to cut back on all our environmentally intrusive behaviors. This proposal sounds easy, but in reality, it will be nearly impossible to implement. Global resources and wealth are not equally distributed. Typically, modern-day and modern-world people have inherent selfish behaviors and do not want to relinquish any liberties, rights, possessions, privileges or wealth for the fate and sake of global humanity, which is their choice.

However, it is all a matter of pay now or pay later. We will pay for our actions that negatively affect the environment. There is no denying that fact.

Whatever your point of view is on this issue, climate change is in the news every day and needs to be addressed. Everyone needs to contribute to protecting the earth for the global community.