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The Emergent Patterns of Climate Change

Melissa Saykham
Human Biology 1090
Professor Randazzo
Watching Gavin Schmidt speak about the effects of climate change in his Ted Talks
segment was profoundly impactful, as it brought about thoughts of the past, present, and
future, and the concept of cause and effect. In his segment, Schmidt begins by speaking
about the complex environment that we, as humans, currently live, die, and continue life on
through procreation. He illustrates that along with the evolution of our species, has come
the evolution of our methods and abilities to observe data and perceive patterns in the
world. With advancements in science and research technology, we have increased our
abilities to perceive our environment in a more accurate context. This being stated, while we
are not fully able to confirm what the future completely holds for us, through modern science
and technology, we are afforded the opportunity of more and more calculations that can
provide us with a more refined insight of what the future could hold for us.
To illustrate the trend of predicting and theorizing ideas pertaining to climate change,
Schmidt talks about the increasing accuracy of studies spanning over many decades. He
compares climate models from the 1990's to climate models in the 2010's, and expresses
how we as a scientific society have been able to implement more and more calculations into
our theories using more refined data, such as how sea ice has gradually melted or changed
shape over time.
With this information, we have been able to more consciously observe how different
factors impact our climate, such as changes in the solar cycles, big volcanoes that have
erupted, changes in biomass burning, in smoke, in aerosol particles, as well as
deforestation changes, and the effects of greenhouse gases. To express an example,
Schmidt references the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. This eruption produced a
significant amount of aerosols and small particles into the stratosphere which in turn
affected the radiation balance of the entire planet. He exhibits different climate models that
are reflective of the history of the 20th century, there are models showing what climate
changes were predicted, and then what climate changes were actually observed. When
going through the 1930's, there's some variability when comparing the models, however,
when reaching the 1970's, there's a change, and the different models start to look more and
more similar. Then comes the 2000's, where trends of global warming are apparent in both
models. Over time, it has been established that our planet has gotten increasingly warmer,
however, despite the substantiated patterns and studies that surround global warming, it
can be assumed that Schmidt feels our society may be going about this matter too
nonchalantly, when he quotes Sherwood Rowland by saying "What is the use of having
developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we're willing to do is
stand around and wait for them to come true?"
In summation, this Ted Talks segment really reiterates to me of how the choices of
today will determine the reality of tomorrow, and how the path to change consists of being
and staying informed, making conscious decisions, and mostly acknowledging that
indifference is essentially the first step to failure.

Reference: "Gavin Schmidt: The Emergent Patterns of Climate Change." Ted Talks. N.p.,
Mar. 2014. Web.