Global Warming Skeptics Need To Listen To And Understand The Truth About Global Warming
Global warming and climate change are topics that bring out the global warming skeptics in numbers. Spirited debate in itself is not a bad thing because many of the scientific advances in world history have been the subject of controversy.
Science, by its very nature, asks questions, searches for answers carries out experiments to test hypotheses and subjects findings to peer review - all aimed at arriving at the truth about a given situation or topic.
A healthy skepticism is always part of the ongoing scientific processes.
However, some times the global warming skeptics runs off the rails for a whole variety of reasons - not listening, simply choosing not to believe the evidence, setting out to discredit the scientific findings because of vested interests.
When the science on climate change is deliberately attacked because those doing it are in the pockets of those who want to continue to pollute the environment with the burning of fossil fuels, then it's time to take a stand.
It's time to refute the half truths which are so dangerous and which are the tools of trade for global warming skeptics. Add half truth to another half truth and what do you have? A lie!
So let's look at some of the most commonly used arguments by global warming skeptics, to discredit the science underlying global warming. In so doing we point out that our material is based upon available information from the
- that very reputable body with a 350 year history of scientific excellence.
Global change skeptics - misguided argument 1:
That rises in the earth's temperature have always occurred and that the current warming is simply part of that pattern. and nothing to do with human activity.
Yes, it's absolutely true that the earth's temperature has varied up and down over time - hundreds of thousands of years - and without any interference from humans. We've had both ice ages and warm periods. These changes are due to factors such as changes in the earth's orbit in relation to the sun, volcanic eruptions and variations in the sun's emitted energy,
However in the last one hundred years the earth's average global temperature has risen by 0.75°C(1.35°F) and that cannot be explained by the natural factors alone. In fact, the last few years have been the hottest on record since records started around the middle of the 19th century.
So why is that happening?
Enter stage left - the greenhouse effect!
The layer of greenhouse gases keeps the earth's temperature at a habitable level. Studies have shown that the earth would be about 30°C cooler if not for the greenhouse layer. In other words, a pretty cold place. The greenhouse gases are just like a giant blanket around the earth.
The water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane and other gases allow the sun's rays to hit the earth but hinder the heat they create from making it back into space. This is all firmly established science.
Therefore if you get a significant increase in the levels of these gases in the atmosphere then more heat gets trapped by them and the earth gets warmer - hence it's called global warming.
The study of ice core samples shows that the levels of carbon dioxide are now 35% greater than they were for the last 600,000 years or more.
Studying the chemical composition of the gas has also shown that the increased levels have come about by the burning of fossil fuels, the burning of forests and the manufacture of cement. These are human caused activities.
This point is fundamental and global warming skeptics need to take it on board.
Global change skeptics - misguided argument 2:
Carbon dioxide is only a small part of the greenhouse gases and shouldn't cop the blame for global warming.
Although carbon dioxide makes up only a tiny part of the atmosphere, it has a very large influence on the climate.The following graph illustrates the point very well.
The graph clearly shows that carbon dioxide is the major influence on the warming of the earth, to the tune of 1.7 watts/sq.m. The evidence is overwhelming.
As previously stated in Argument 1, these greenhouse gases absorb heat and redirect it - a property which other atmospheric gases don't possess. For example, nitrogen makes up a much larger proportion of the atmosphere but it doesn't have this heat trapping ability and so it has no influence on warming.
Water vapor is a very significant greenhouse gas and the levels vary through global warming caused by human activity. Increased evaporation from rivers and oceans causes warming or cooling depending on whether the water vapor is clouds or just humidity.
However, as shown above, carbon dioxide is the main culprit when it comes to global warming.
Global change skeptics - misguided argument 3:
The increase in CO2 levels is because of increased temperature and not the reverse, as scientists say.
It is certainly true that over the ages the earth's temperature varied and these variations were initiated by changes in the earth's orbit around the sun. The ice ages, for example, resulted in increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Ice core samples show, without doubt, that the temperature rise came first and the increase in CO2 later. And as this warming occurred the oceans released CO2 and the soils released gases such as methane and the resulting increase in greenhouse gas levels brought about a further warming. This phenomenon is known as a positive forcing or positive feedback.
However, all that is a natural process. In contrast to that, the recent steep increase in CO2 levels is not due to natural causes. It is man made and the chemical analysis proves that it comes primarily from the burning of fossil fuels.
Again global warming skeptics need to be able to stand up and refute the evdence
Global change skeptics - misguided argument 4:
Measurements from weather balloons and satellites don't support the theory of global warming.
It is also true to assert that there are discrepancies in the data. However, it is now clear that these differences in measurements have their explanation in the way that the measurements were taken and the data analyzed.
To explain this further: global warming theory says that the troposphere (the major part of the atmosphere) should get warmer because of increased level of greenhouse gases and the lower stratosphere(just above the greenhouse layer) should get cooler. Measurements taken in the early 1990's did show different results but it has since been shown that the factors such as the slowing of satellites, instrumental differences across satellites and balloons as well as mathematical errors, all contributed to these results.
Once the data was corrected to allow for these differences it fell within the normal expectations of the climate models being used.
Global change skeptics - misguided argument 5:
Computer models that are used to predict the climate are unreliable
Scientists use a variety of different models to analyze and predict climate change. These models simulate how the clouds, sun, oceans, life on earth, pollutants in the atmosphere interact with each other. The models have helped scientists to plot the course of climate over the past 100 years and then to project into the future.
These models can never project exactly what the climate will be like but they do allow for testing different future scenarios, for example, population increase, government policies and greenhouse gas levels. They are the most reliable guide we have and they are always being improved through new measurement techniques and technologies.
Global change skeptics - misguided argument 6:
Increased earth temperatures are all to do with the sun and increased sunspots on the sun
The sun definitely has an influence on the earth's climate but that influence does notaccount for the changes in global average temperature over the past 100 years.
More sunspots indicate that the sun is more active and emitting more light and heat. In the early part of the 20th century there was some contribution to global warming due to solar activity.
However, since then there has been very little change in solar activity, maybe even a slight decline. Therefore it cannot account for the rises in temperature that have occurred.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, you can only understand the size and pattern of temperature changes by taking into account all the relevant factors, both natural and human. For example, cooling takes place when there is a major volcanic eruption. Cooling also occurs when sulphate aerosols are emitted through the burning of fossil fuels.
These factors and a decline in solar activity produced an overall cooling effect between 1940 and 1970. However, since then, global temperatures have risen well above the 1940's and this been due to increased carbon dioxide levels and a reduction in sulphate aerosol levels.
Global warming skeptics - misguided argument 7:
Cosmic rays are the cause of climate change
Cosmic rays are particles from outer space and release an electric charge in the atmosphere. The science of these rays is not well understood. Laboratory experiments have shown that maybe the rays create tiny particles that in turn generate clouds. But clouds generally have a cooling effect.
One theory put forward by the proponents of cosmic rays is that when the sun is more active its magnetic field is stronger and this deflects cosmic rays away from the earth, thus causing it to become warmer.
However, the recent level of solar activity, as already explained, has not increased, and so the cosmic ray effect cannot account for recent global warming.
Global warming skeptics - misguided argument 8:
The negative effects of climate change are exaggerated and there is no need for urgent action
The IPCC(insert link)
Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC)
- the world's leading authority on climate change - has produced a set of estimates about future temperature changes. The estimates cover a range to allow for a range of effects. If we take a mid-range estimate their report projects a global average temperature increase this century of 2° to 3°C. This would be the biggest change in at least 10,00O years.
Some of the effects of that change will be beneficial in some areas of the world. In the Northern hemisphere, for example, there might be longer growing seasons and greater crop yields.
However, the IPCC pointed out that as the climate change progresses, the negatives will outweigh the positives and begin to dominate over wider areas. For example, heat waves, storm and flooding would be likely to be more frequent.
Furthermore, the long term effects could create abrupt irreversible changes on our planet with major consequences - the melting of large ice sheets, for example, would threaten the livelihood of people in low-lying areas.
The overall effects will disadvantage the developing countries and the poor who can least afford to adapt. For example, access to adequate food, clean water and good health.
To us that spells urgent!
Hopefully reading the rebuttal of the misguided arguments of the global change skeptics will help you realize the urgency for both individual and collective change.
This is not fear-mongering. It is purely and simply a matter requiring urgent attention.
In addition to the good science underlying current global warming knowledge there is a matter of human values. How much do we care about the future generations of people who will inherit the earth? Those people will be our descendants and it will be tragic if the influence of the global warming skeptics prevents the right actions being taken in time.
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