As severe cold has enveloped much of the Northern Hemisphere over the past few weeks, concerns about global warming have certainly been upstaged by worries related to crop damage, travel disruption and frozen pipes. Of course, temporary weather patterns have little to do with the long term climate change and global warming always receives more attention in the midst of a long, hot summer.
While there is little doubt that Earth's climate is warming and that man has played some role in the process, the welfare of natural ecosystems and of the human species is threatened by a host of factors, not all of which are under our control. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves, hurricanes and other severe weather events will surely have more impact in the coming decades than the gradual change in climate and how global warming will affect weather patterns and agriculture is still open to speculation.
On the other hand, we must acknowledge the multiple negative impacts that we have on Earth's ecosystems and make every effort to minimize them. While attention to carbon emissions is certainly important, we cannot overlook the many other forms of pollution that result from human activity. And while technology and recycling may solve some of our problems, the willingness to address excess consumption, habitat destruction and uncontrolled population growth will be vital to the future welfare of our planet and our species.