The issue of climate change has received so much attention in recent years that it has become difficult for interested policymakers to separate facts from fiction, let alone the cruising sailor. But the natural world and its health is vital to the world of the cruising sailor, so I reprint this recent Ocean Watch Essay which is of interest to sailors everywhere. Hopefully it helps to clarify some of your thinking on this vital subject of which the effects will be felt and experienced by all sailors making extensive passages:
'Climate change is one of the most cutting edge research fields in modern science, but the field has existed for more than a century and much knowledge has been established with high certainty and confidence. This page clears up three of the most common misconceptions about the science of climate change.
REALITY: There are several drivers that cause climate to change, and some of the key drivers have both natural and human sources. Recent increases in global temperatures result mostly from higher levels of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, which have been increasing because of human activities.
This misconception leans on the false presumption that the existence of natural climate drivers precludes the existence of human drivers. In reality, there are some key climate drivers that have both natural sources and human sources, and scientists are able to distinguish between them. The changes that have occurred in natural climate drivers in recent decades would likely have caused a small amount of cooling, not warming. During the past century, human activities have been the only sustained source of the extra heat-trapping gases that have been added to the atmosphere. Scientists have demonstrated that the primary human source (80 percent) is the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas, and the secondary human source (20 percent) is deforestation and other land use changes.