Global warming has been thought as a theory that global average temperatures have been rising and will continue to rise as a result of mankind activities. As an effect, this paper critically discusses the argument put forward by the believers & the argument put forward by non- believers of global warming. It also highlights solutions which can be used to solve this global problem.
Global warming has been defined as “the rising average temperature of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans and its related effects” (Gleick, 2001). Believers of this theory have attributed anthropogenic activities to climate change. People like Gore have called for actions in which they say that each of the human races has the responsibility of dealing with climate change.
In proving that global warming is not a theory but a fact, believers claim that, it impacts like: melting of arctic sea ice, rise in the sea level, surface temperature rise, melting of glaciers and permafrost, desertification due to extreme drought conditions, prevalence of heavy down pour leading to flooding, increase in average surface temperature, increase in strength and frequency of hurricanes, increase in frequency of heat waves and acidification of sea water are just evident and anybody can either feel or see them.
According to believers of global warming, the number of category four and five hurricanes has almost increased in the last few decades, waves of heat will at one point be more frequent and more intense as temperature increases, death will double in a quarter a century to 300,000 people annually.
In addition, millions of species globally will at one point be extinct as a result of global warming, by 2050 there will be no ice in Arctic Ocean, new and invasive species will be introduced and sea level will rise by over 20ft coupled with loss of shelf ice in Antarctic and Greenland. All these seem to be fully supported by those like Eric.
Most scientists like Eric Staig, who is an earth scientist agree with this, claiming that the whole issue about global warming has not been addressed well by different stakeholders; hence its effects will still be evident. He mentions the drowning of four bears as being one of the effects of global warming (Michael, & Nikkhah, 2004).
It is worth to note that sceptics of climate change have very strong roots from the past sceptics of global warming. According to Glover (2007), believers of climate change have based their arguments on serious scientific errors that are misleading. He claims that, when Gore claimed that glacier will melt due to global warming is misleading.
Historical records show that ice has been melting in some mountains since 1880 as a result of land use changes, humidity changes and rainfall patterns. In a ruling made by Burton, scientific evidence proves that ice melting is not mainly due to anthropogenic activities (Glover, 2007).
The argument that increase in CO2 in the environment is immoral, is among the claims refuted by sceptics, because it ignores photosynthesis science. It is a fact that plants need CO2 to manufacture food, so an increase of CO2 gas will translate to plant productivity.
It has been argued that CO2 gas is not poison. As a matter of fact, in Devonian era, vascular plants thrived well with CO2 levels being over 20 times the current one and temperatures were not much different from what we are experiencing today, in fact man will have plenty to eat with high CO2 concentration.
By looking at the argument that sea level will rise by six meter 20fts, is an exaggeration that is unreasonable. This prediction is not in line with scientific results like the IPCC, which holds that in the coming 100 years, sea level will rise by between 0.1m and 0.8m.
According to scientific records, sea level rose by 1mm between 1900 and 1951, which later decline by almost the same rate in 1980. It is also worth noting according to them that, 125,000 years ago at a time when CO2 concentration was much lower sea level abnormally rose to excess of six meters, 7,000 years ago it went up more than two meters and 1,000 ago it rose by 0.5 meters.
Climate is defined scientifically as “average weather conditions over a long period of time. So, climate is having inherent variables hence individual weather condition cannot indicate climatic trend” (Stern, 2007). Using events like floods, hurricane and Katrina, to explain global warming is incorrect.
Moreover, claiming that U.S responsibility is misleading and unfair, according to economists. This is because, comparing fuel economy standards of the country and that of others is unfair; some say that if burning fossil fuels is done away with, emission of green-house gas will reduce. But, what will happen to businesses? They will end up coming to a standstill, leading to loss of jobs which translates to poverty. The argument provided by U.S not to ratify the Kyoto protocol is basically from economic reasons (Stern, 2007).
According to a ruling made by Burton, drowning of polar bear was not as a result of global warming as many have claimed. Non-believers have asserted that a number of bears were drowned while trying to swim further to find ice. However, the fact is, the four polar bears drowning was as a result of violent storm
Sceptics have also refuted the claim that increases in CO2 release, will lead to increase in surface temperature. This is because, the statistics and graphs were wrongly interpreted, sceptics claim that the data are not ice core one but rather Mann et al research group. Documentations prove that between 100-1300 AD temperatures were just as high as now.
So, claiming that CO2 gas caused an increase in temperature was disapproved based on the fact that, increase in CO2 gas was trailing temperature increase between 800 and 2000 years (Revkin, 2005).
In addition, according to Walter, et al (2006), the green house effect is as a result of a combination of various variables including clouds, water vapour, CO2 contributing to, 24%, 54% and 14% respectively. Now, using Stefan Boltzmann equation to CO2 gas, raise in temperature will be less than 0.5 degree Celsius between now and the time its concentration will double (Walter et al, 2006).
Mitigation; this has been done to reduce global warming effects in future particularly by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This involves manufacturing products that can be reused or recycled as one way of dealing with this problem. Recycling needs much less energy as compared to new materials. In addition, recycling or reusing reduces the number of products needed to be manufactured, hence using less energy.
Another way of mitigating is forestation and reforestation. Due to the fact that trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and then store it, if more trees are planted, then more carbon dioxide will be absorbed from the atmosphere. In addition trees reduce flood effects as they act as barriers to run off waters hence reducing their destruction forces. Reducing emissions from industries by using cleaner fuels like bio-energy which is environmentally friendly is highly called for (Revkin, 2005).
Geo-engineering has also been used to solve global warming problem. This has involved the use of different techniques like removal of CO2 from the atmosphere as well as reflecting incoming sunlight. Lastly introducing the concept of carbon tax has been proposed to help curb the problem although it has generated serious debates (Walter et al., 2006).
From the review of global warming, views from both sides of the divide have been brought forth. Strong arguments for and against the whole idea has been succinctly covered. The last section of the paper deals with the possible solutions that can be used to curb the problem. It is important to remember that despite the arguments for and against global warming the problem is real and calls for timely solutions.
The link to the article is http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/science/topics/globalwarming/index.html
The newspaper talks of global warming being a serious problem. However it acknowledges that there a number of technological, economic as well as political that need to be resolved before the entire world embarks on collective effort to arrest the problem. Major causes of global warming are clearly brought to light. Similarly possible solutions have been proposed on how best to tackle the problem.
Gleick, P. (2001). Climate change in a warming World. New York: California Water.
Michael, J & Nikkhah, R. 2004. The truth about global warming – it’s the Sun that’s to blame. London: Taylor & Francis.
Revkin, C. (2005 November 5). Rise in gases unmatched by a history in ancient ice. The New York Times. P. A2.
Stern, N. (2007). The economics of climate change — the Stern Review. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Walter, K., et al (2006). Methane bubbling from Siberian thaw lakes as a positive feedback to climate warming. Nature, 443 (7107): 71–75.