On a recent episode of The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert brought up the conflict facing both climatologists and meteorologists – who exactly is at fault for global warming? Climatologists claim that humans are at fault for global warming; while meteorologists claim that global warming is a natural process and humans have no effect on it.
Some of you may be wondering why climatologists and meteorologists are fighting; that they’re basically the same profession, right? But, just like psychologists and sociologists are occasionally confused with one another, so are climatologists and meteorologists. For the record, climatologists study climate over an extended period of time, whereas meteorologists study the atmosphere and focus on weather processes and forecasting (over a short period of time).
According to NASA, “global warming is an increase in the average temperature of Earth’s surface. Since the late 1800’s, the global average temperature has increased about 0.7 to 1.4 degrees F (Fahrenheit).” A majority of climatologists have made the claim that human activities (including the burning of fossil fuels from cars, factories, and electric power plants, as well as the clearing of land) contribute to global warming by enhancing the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect.
When it comes to meteorologists, Joe Bastardi (a meteorologist with AccuWeather) maintains his claim that global warming is the result of the planet naturally cooling off. A study conducted by researchers from George Mason University and the University of Texas at Austin found that out of 571 surveyed television meteorologists, only about half believed that global warming was taking place, and fewer than a third believed climate change is a result of human activities. In essence, meteorologists feel that global warming is a natural process and has little or nothing to do with human activity.
Global warming can potentially cause great harm to not only humans, but also to plants and animals (on land and in the seas). Ocean water temperatures can rise, which can result in added stress on ecosystems (such as coral reefs). In addition to rising water temperatures, rising sea levels can also be blamed on global warming as a result of melting ice caps from the Arctic region. Global warming can also cause extreme weather conditions such as changes in rainfall patterns (flooding and droughts), and stronger hurricanes and tropical storms. So whosever side you agree with, the climatologist or the meteorologist, we can all certainly agree that global warming is real and very serious.