By Kevin Whitehead
Everyone has the potential to fix the state of global warming, according to Dr. Heidi Cullen, research scientist and correspondent for Climate Central, a non-profit journalism and research organization dedicated to raising awareness about climate change by its website.
Cullen spoke to a crowd in room 102 of the Science and Technology building Tuesday about the detrimental effects of global warming. The event was sponsored by the departments of political science, geology, environmental sciences and marine sciences.
“We can fix it if we decide to care about it,” Cullen said.
The issue of global warming has heated up in this century because of the rise in temperatures and extreme weather conditions, especially in America, she said. She addressed the trends in global warming through statistics. Every decade has become progressively warmer since the 1980s. Looking even further back, there has been a warming trend since the 1800s.
According to Cullen, some scientists argue that the warming may just be a natural spike in temperatures, but she suggested that it is caused by human activity.
“The strongest predictor is to believe that it is caused by human activity,” she said. “Yet there is no consensus of that idea. You need to understand it’s real, it’s a threat and it’s human’s fault. But are we able to fix it? Yes we can.”
Cullen, who has a B.S. in industrial engineering and a Ph.D. in climatology and ocean-atmosphere dynamics, was the first televised climate expert, according to Climate Central’s website. She developed The Weather Channel’s Forecast Earth, a program that focused on environmental issues including climate change.
Some scientists theorize that global warming is one of the greatest threats to our planet, according to Cullen. Consequences such as rising sea levels, higher temperatures and natural disasters put many at risk due to this evolving predicament.
Cullen discussed the difficulty scientists have following the trends in global warming.
“It’s a big responsibility just to wrap their brains around this issue because it’s definitely a tough one,” she said.
Cullen blames inadequate media coverage for the lack of upheaval throughout the country and government. Without the media’s voice, It is not assumed by the public to be a pressing issue.
Issues like the war in Iraq, the recession and political debates dominate the daily coverage.
According to Cullen, media coverage alone is not what has caused Americans to turn their heads to global warming. It is the landscape of issues that face the nation. The economy and the national deficit are more immediate, pressing issues to Americans – not the need to transition to clean coal or other types of energy efficient methods. She also mentioned that politics can influence the way people think about global warming.
“There are those who are concerned that believe in it and want to know how they can help. Others believe they need to know more before they become cautious,” Cullen said.