Two competing theories of climate change — both spell disaster

By Achara Deboonme ,The Nation/Asia News Network

The abrupt change of temperature has caused a stir among Bangkokians. Sweaters usually preserved for trips to the north are now being pulled out of closets as the mercury drops below 20 degrees Celsius. Weather forecasts uploaded to the social media are accompanied by disbelieving exclamations: “Is it true?” The surprise is understandable: We usually see Bangkok temperatures this low only in late December, and the last time was years ago. For some, the chill is reason to celebrate. City slickers who have been dreaming about donning colorful sweaters to work are overjoyed that weather experts are forecasting winter will last longer this year. Yet, the extreme weather change could also delay the arrival of the rainy season and prolong the ongoing drought. Any change in conditions will naturally bring happiness to those who are prepared and despair to those who aren’t. But even in the countries accustomed to low temperatures, this one can spell disaster. As of Sunday, 24 people had lost their lives in some of the worst-ever snowstorms recorded on the eastern seaboard of the United States. Forewarning is often not enough to prevent daily routines from being disrupted. Schools have been closed in Hong Kong as the city undergoes its worst cold spell in 60 years. Yet parents still had to work, and without anyone to take care of the kids at home, some took their children to school anyway. In December — reportedly the warmest in years for countries in the northern hemisphere — trees were tricked into flower. Obviously, all living things are adjusting to the new conditions. During the Mesozoic Era, from about 250- to 65-million years ago, most of the world was hot and humid. The climate then cooled by tens of degrees, possibly when the impact of a huge asteroid triggered volcanic eruptions whose dust blocked out the sun. That climate change brought about the extinction of dinosaurs, then the largest creatures on Earth. How could they survive without water or food? Human Activity Today we face another sudden change in climate, this time not because of asteroid strikes but because of the behavior of those who call this planet home. On websites including this one,, celebrities are being lauded for their efforts to save the world.

Among them is Brad Pitt, who established the Make It Right Foundation that donated “green” building materials to replace New Orleans homes destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. In his daily life, he also uses a bike to get around rather than a limo. The theory that human behavior has caused climate change is, indeed, very convincing.