For me, climate change is real, and it is far more than a debate about climate.
Sure, the climate has been changing, basically driven by orbital drivers of the amount of sunlight received, but occasionally influenced by large scale volcanism or large comet or meteor impacts (and sometimes both of those together), and also by changes in the output from the sun (at different time scales).
Sure, climate is a complex and often chaotic system that cannot be predicted in detail, but can be approximated to the point that we can have a reasonably good idea of what the limits will be, and what the probabilities of different sorts of events will be (even if we don’t know exactly when they will happen).
Sure the amount of carbon people are adding each year is much less than what is circulating, and it is an addition – every year a bit more. Those little bits add up to a big bit over time, and the little bits have been getting bigger every year.
Sure, the period of relatively stable climate over the last 10,000 years of recorded history is the exception rather than the rule, and global cooling (another major ice period) would have been likely sometime soonish; and would have had major disruptions (falling sea levels, much colder away from the tropics, etc).
Sure Happer has some valid points, and he is being paid by the fossil fuel industry to advocate those points in an out of context manner.
When I first looked seriously at the issue 30 years ago, it seemed real to me. I bought 35 acres of cheap land 23 years ago, planted it in trees, and offset my fossil fuel use. That is not a stable solution for the planet (not enough land).
When I look at the data coming in from the NOAA (Roy Spencer does a good job of making this easily available – https://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/ (https://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/) ), then I see a lot of variability and a clear increasing trend.
The ocean is definitely rising.
The models are now reasonably reliable, that if we somehow stop adding CO2 soon, within 20 years, then the ocean will eventually rise some 20m, (60 ft). Might only be 1m (3 ft this century), and it will eventually get to the new “equilibrium” point.
That is not good news for coastal cities or infrastructure.
We have the ability to develop technologies that actually allow us to manage global climate within reasonable limits (and hold sea level pretty much where it is), but developing that requires a globally cooperative system. The current competitive system of money and markets and competing nation states cannot do it (no mathematical way to create anything approximating stability or security in such a competitive environment). And to be explicitly clear, I am not advocating any sort of global centrally controlled socialism, but rather a global system of cooperation between individuals and groups of many different sorts; where individual life and individual liberty (responsibly expressed in social and ecological contexts) are the highest values.
So how do I feel about climate change?
It is one of the least scary options that we can use to deliver sufficient external threat to be able to actually establish globally cooperative networks to allow for the development of abundance based cooperative systems that actually support individuals living responsibly and in security with the greatest degrees of freedom possible. When one looks deeply at the evolution of new levels of complexity (and it has happened many times in our evolutionary history) it is always predicated on new levels of cooperation (competitive systems are always driven to some set of minima on the available complexity “landscape”). True freedom, true emergence of new classes of expressed complex systems, requires a cooperative context – the mathematics and logic of that is beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt (and it is a complex system, so there is always some degree of uncertainty present).
We need to stop burning coal, it is far too valuable a resource. We will need it as a carbon and hydrogen source for developing large orbital habitats (the rest of the mass can come from the moon, but there isn’t a lot of carbon or hydrogen on the moon – the earth is going to be the easiest source for some time to come).
So a real issue, and more opportunity than problem, and the problem aspect needs to be sufficiently widely accepted before the opportunity aspect can emerge.