Sunday, September 14, 2008

[Feature] Global Warming: Is It Hot Air?

For years I've been taught at school about the devastating effects Global Warming has on our planet. I've been taught to hate factory smoke stacks. I watched an Inconvenient Truth and was terrified at the idea of a post apocalyptic era in which the Earth is so hot Neutragena SPF 75 isn't enough. But what if everything I had been told was wrong? It wouldn't be the first time the overwhelming majority had taught me untruths, Columbus did not discover America, Alexander Graham Bell did not event the telephone, etc...

The Case Against Global Warming
Despite popular belief, skepticism in human triggered global warming is not strictly reserved for the far right conservatives. There are scientists who don't agree with the most popular views of global warming. The case against global warming begins with the debate of how much influence human beings have on the Earth's climate. It is argued that most of the green house effect, the process that causes global warming, is due to water in the atmosphere in the form of water vapor and water droplets in clouds. In fact, those who oppose global warming claim that up to 95% of the green house effect is due to heat being retained by water vapor. This leaves a mere 5% for other greenhouse gases such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2), and an even smaller percentage, less than 1% is CO2 that is actually emitted by human activity. It's hard to put the blame solely on human activity if human emissions make up less than one percent of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The Earth, after all, has gone through plenty of global climate changes even long before humans were around.

The Case For Global Warming
Humans have been assaulting the atmosphere with CO2, increasing the amount of CO2 in the air by roughly 30 percent since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Human activity has undoubtedly increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This increase in CO2 has coincided with the fastest rise in global temperatures in recorded history. In fact, the 10 hottest years in recorded history have all come after 1990. Further evidence of global warming comes in the way of weather phenomenas, such as hurricanes. While global warming does not create more hurricanes, warmer ocean waters increases the force of these storms. The amount of category 4 and 5 hurricanes has increased significantly over the past five years.

How Inconvenient is the Truth?
I can't tell you with 100 percent certainty what the truth is. I completely understand that global temperatures would fluctuate over time with or without humans on the planet, but if I had to make an educated guess, I would say that we are having an effect on our planet. The correlation between green house emission from human sources and the recent rise in global temperatures seems too strong.
Regardless on what side you stand on the issue, there is no excuse for not being environmentally aware. People have done plenty of damage to the Earth already (eg. deforestation, ozone depletion) and now is not the time to excuse reckless activities. The major causes of CO2 emissions in the US come from coal power plants and automobiles, both of which create large amounts of air pollution. Not only is a push for cleaner energy beneficial to our environment, it is also good for our economy because it creates a new business sector and gives us more choices for our energy consumption.


sang said...

My neuro psych prof. doesn't believe we're the sole cause of Global Warming, but is in favor of doing something about pollution. The last couple of days were really hot though, uh oh.

Anonymous said...

I know you don't buy in to the "Against" case. I just wanted to address that passage.

The whole "humans only contribute such a small percentage overall" is a red herring.

The total global capacity to retain the sun's heat is useful for explaining why the Earth doesn't freeze or have temperature extremes like the moon.

Global warming is about climate change. And in that regard, the delta that results from human activity is needs to focused on.

With everything else being relatively stable, if human CO2 production results in a measurable temperature change, then it doesn't really matter if it's 1% of total greenhouse capacity. The passage wants you to believe that 1% can't make a difference.

And what do these people think will happen to the amount of water vapor in the air when that 1% of activity results in a temperature change of .5 degree Celsius? Now that dismissive "95% is from water vapor" becomes a big deal.

The whole passage is just terrible/brilliant is that it sounds convincing but is based on assumptions that lead to faulty/irrelevant conclusions.

I'm surprised they didn't bring up how methane is an even more powerful greenhouse gas and that termite and cow farts were going to doom us all.

I'm not sure if you can find more than a handful of (any?) credible climate scientists who would say that human activity is not contributing a significant part of the current climate change trend.

Anonymous said...

my thesis class was on environmental politics. and global warming being blamed on natural causes is bs. how bout the ozone layer. sure, that was coincidence.

all i know is that we are screwed. i also heard few weeks ago a major ice cap brokeoff on the artic. sidenote: we are due for an epidemic as well.