UNF biology professor discusses climate change

Hayley Simonson, Managing Editor

Our planet is estimated to be home to 15 million different species, yet Earth continues to be misunderstood and put on the backburner by the very people it sustains. Myths about pressing issues such as climate change are prominent, and it is imperative that they get debunked. 

Dr. Adam Rosenblatt is a professor of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Florida. He has expertise in Climate Change Ecology.

It’s normal for the climate to change over time. The concern is that it is changing incredibly quickly. If you look at the history of the earth, climate tends to change much slower than it has been. That’s the main issue people are worried about.

Some people say Carbon Dioxide isn’t a threat to plants, and that the Earth still gets cold so it must not be getting warmer. According to Dr. Rosenblatt, plants need Carbon Dioxide to be able to grow and reproduce. That doesn’t mean that having more Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere is good for all species on the planet, and cold weather can still exist even in a warm climate.

“Weather is something that occurs on a short time scale whereas climate change is the long term average of weather over many years, decades, or centuries,” said Rosenblatt. “You can’t extrapolate from one cold day, or week, all the way to the entire climate. Even as the globe warms, we will still see extreme cold temperatures during the winter time in certain parts, because of the way that air currents are shifting, especially around the Arctic.”

To Rosenblatt, climate change is the most pressing problem we face as a species. 

“It’s not like it’s a future issue, it’s a right-now issue,” he said. “In my opinion, the biggest issue facing us at the moment is habitat destruction, which is the cutting down of forests and polluting of the oceans. Climate change will become a much bigger issue over the coming decades.”

There are misconceptions about renewable energy, such as ideas that it is a money making scheme or just a complete hoax. 

Dr. Rosenblatt said that the main reason for this is due to very wealthy individuals and industries, such as the gas and oil industries, spending huge amounts of money to try and influence politics, and policies that get past on federal and city levels. They have also bought ad campaigns to try to sway the public into thinking that climate change is not important.

“To be honest, the people who make a lot of money off fossil fuels, have spent a lot of money to try to continue to make a lot of money off fossil fuels, and they’re very successful at it,” said Rosenblatt.  

There’s no doubt that climate change is a global problem, but who’s to blame for it? 

“Countries definitely need to work together. When it comes to blame though, I mean, I wouldn’t say it’s like a kumbaya thing where everyone just has to forget the past and work together,” said Rosenblatt.  

The richest countries in the world, with the larger economies, such as the United States, China, certain countries in the UK, and Australia are some of the biggest contributors to climate change. Rosenblatt said that countries like the United States, who have contributed so heavily to the issue, should bear more of the burden for fixing the problem.

Some animals and plants will evolve to keep pace with climate change, but many animals and plants will not. 

“Things are already really bad right now depending on where you look. The thing to keep in mind is the effects of climate change are not the same throughout the entire planet. There are differences. Right now we are already suffering really dramatic changes. For example, there are island nations in the South Pacific ocean that are basically disappearing. Sea levels rising are literally washing these islands away. For them, it’s a now issue,” said  Dr. Rosenblatt.  

For countries like the United States, there will be different impacts in different parts of the country. Places like Miami in Florida, for example, are already seeing big impacts of flooding and hurricanes. 

Everywhere will eventually get hotter, and wet areas are going to get wetter and dry areas are going to get dryer. There have not been big jumps in climate effects over the last 60-70 years. The change has been somewhat gradual on a human time scale. The projections show that starting in the 2030s, the effects of climate change are going to exceed quite rapidly if there is no action. 

“I just want to clarify, it’s not like the earth is just going to catch on fire and burn to the ground. There’s going to be a lot of pain and suffering between humans and other species across the globe, but it’s not like humans are going to disappear from the planet surface,” said Rosenblatt. “If climate change continues though, our species will decline in population, because food shortages, water shortages, war, violence, and disease will be more than it is right now.” 

According to Dr. Rosenblatt, every single political issue that politicians are focused on is going to be made worse by climate change. 

“I just want to make it clear that individual behavioral changes, on a person by person basis, are not going to get the job done,” he said. “The number one thing people can do is vote at state, local, and national levels for people who care about climate change and environmental issues.”

There are many other approaches one can take to help out the environment. Dr. Rosenblatt suggested a few. Talk about climate change issues with friends and family to help spread the word on what a grave threat they are.

Eating less meat, specifically beef from cows, is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. This is because cows burp a lot of methane gas, when chewing their food. There are huge cattle industries, because people consistently consume beef. 

“You don’t have to completely give up eating beef. Obviously people love beef because it tastes delicious. So if you can’t completely, you can at least just try to decrease your consumption. That kinda stuff adds up if a lot of people are doing it. If there’s less demand, hopefully there would be less supply,” said Rosenblatt. 

Other helpful solutions for the environment include cutting back on less public transportation, or searching for more energy efficient vehicles and products in general. 

“He who cheats the earth will be cheated by the earth.” – Chinese Proverbs 


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].