My answer to the people who still think climate change is a myth. This is a research paper I wrote last year which took 4 months to complete. I wrote it because I feel the need to prove to my friends and family that we MUST change our ways as a society or we will drive our world into oblivion.
“To Deny Global Warming Is Dangerous”
In the 1970’s a handful of Americans felt threatened by global cooling until it was proven invalid. Many citizens feel like they were deceived because global cooling was just a hoax perpetuated by the media. Global warming, the new global cooling, is also a climate scare and in order to avoid being tricked by the media again many people are disregarding the huge mass of scientific data that proves global warming is real. These deniers need to have a conversation with Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, a Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. On behalf of the IPCC he stated, “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global sea level” (Pachauri). In other words, global warming is real and to deny this fact is dangerous and wrong.
Yet there are many people out there that believe global warming is just a myth and that the hype will slowly fade away. Unfortunately, global warming will not just fade away. The idea of manmade global warming has been around since the 1880s and at that time it “was an obscure scientific hypothesis that burning fossil fuels would increase CO2 in the air to enhance the greenhouse effect and thus cause global warming” (Courtney). This greenhouse effect can be explained as specific gases in the earth’s atmosphere that allow sunlight, and its energy, through but keep the earth’s heat from escaping into space just like the glass windows in a greenhouse let in sunlight but keep heat from escaping outside (The Greenhouse Effect). The main concern is that when people dump mass amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere via sources like workshop pollution, vehicle emissions, or fossil fuel usage the greenhouse effect increases and the earth’s surface gets warmer. As surface temperatures rise “carbon dioxide leaks out of the ocean like a glass of root beer going flat on a warm day” (Gierak). So the more CO2 we release the more CO2 the earth releases which equates to an exponential increase in the greenhouse effect. This theory of global warming is viewed as inconclusive because, like all other scientific theories, a door must be left open for the possibility of someone proving it wrong. Whenever a scientist put down his foot and claimed that there is no longer a reason to believe global warming is a myth he showed that his thinking is far from the scientific method (Charen). Global warming opponents see this as being inconclusive data and resort to the idea that global warming is just a big scare tactic brought on by the media or by companies who are getting rich off of environmentally friendly products. All of these deniers are wrong and I will use scientific data and factual information to prove that global warming is a threat perpetuated by humans.
Global warming opponents have multiple arguments against this theory such as the lack of overwhelming heat that global warming should be causing. If the earth is really becoming a scorched wasteland then why are winters still cold; why does it rain in the summer; why are there cool days in the summer and why does it still snow? These experiences cannot be used as evidence to disprove global warming. They are anecdotal and if this type of evidence held weight in an argument I would say that the past few winters have been so warm that the snow melts away in the sunlight but since no scientist would consider my personal experiences as proof this is not scientific data. However, if one must insist that the rainy summers and snowy winters disproves the global warming theory it should be asserted that global warming is climate change. This means that heat is not the only affect that global warming will have on the earth. Many deniers voice how pathetic it is that global warming proponents blame the cold winters and the rainy summers on global warming (Dragon28). It may sound pathetic but the facts support the idea that global warming affects every part of the climate, not just the level of warmth. An article posted on the Union of Concerned Scientists website illustrates that an “increase in surface air temperature causes an increase in evaporation and generally higher levels of water vapor in the atmosphere” and the “excess water vapor will in turn lead to more frequent heavy precipitation when atmospheric instability is sufficient to trigger precipitation events. Intense precipitation can result in flooding, soil erosion, landslides” and “heavy precipitation events in winter” (“Early Warning Signs of Global Warming”). In the last 50 years the earth has warmed about .65 degrees Celsius which is enough change to disturb the earth’s climate and is the reason why certain regions have experienced an increase in extreme precipitation events (“Global Warming in Plain English.”). Science and factual data are the only types of information that can be used to prove or disprove global warming’s existence.
Possibly one of the worst arguments that deniers get wrong is the claim that there is no scientific data that supports the global warming theory. A denier wrote, “I have yet to see one solitary piece of science (yes, science, what a crazy notion) that supports AGW. Quite simply, there is none. It is a false science. In the same way that Astrology is a pseudo-science, in time so will Global Warming be” (Dragon28). This is a bold statement that may appeal to global warming opponents and proponents alike but it itself has no scientific data to shun the global warming proponents like the author had hoped. These opponents say that the only reason why the idea of global warming is around is due to the media. Winslow, a global warming opponent, says that “most people have surrendered their minds to their television set and they believe whatever they read in the newspaper, hear on the radio or watch on the television; anything. Now they believe in global warming” because he thinks that the widespread belief of this theory can’t be due to scientific research. These deniers are overlooking the mountain sized amounts of data that prove global warming exists. Anyone who tries to deny that the earth is warming is trying to deny physical proof. The following two pictures
are an example of this undeniable proof (Rozell). The Muir Glacier was an enormous sheet of ice that completely melted away between 1941 and 2004 due to the warmer temperatures. Other forms of global warming proof come from scientific studies. The board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate published a research essay that reports “The Earth warmed by roughly 0.6°C (1°F) during the 20th century” (Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate). Six different teams from this board put their instrumental recordings together and their data is shown in the graph above (Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate). The graph displays the upward spike in global temperatures that have occurred during the 20th century. This is scientific proof that the earth is warming.
But even with all the scientific data that supports global warming there are deniers that will not accept the facts. Instead, they confuse uninformed citizens by creating pseudoscientific articles and websites that are filled with unproven statements. Pseudoscience means that these authors are using loads of scientific dialogue but what they say does not prove their point of view. For example, the Junkscience website states that “The term ‘greenhouse effect’ is unfortunate since it results in a false impression of the activity of so-called ‘greenhouse gases.’ An actual greenhouse works as a physical barrier to convection (the transfer of heat by currents in fluid) while the atmosphere really facilitates convection so the impression of actual greenhouse-like activity in the Earth’s atmosphere is incorrect” (“The Real ‘Inconvenient Truth'”). Junkscience explains how a real greenhouse is dissimilar to the greenhouse effect which looks and sounds like scientific research but the fact is that it does not disprove global warming in anyway. Greenhouse effect is just a term used to make understanding global warming easier. The fact that it is not identical to a real greenhouse does not disprove global warming. This is only one small example of the pseudoscientific claims that global warming deniers are making. The Great Global Warming Swindle is a different pseudoscience website and states “In the last decade, there has been no clear warming trend” and in “the last century, much of the warming occurred prior to 1940, when human emissions of CO2 were relatively small compared to today” (Durkin). Again, this does not disprove global warming. It is a bunch of terminology put together to look like scientific proof. Just because warming happened before 1940 when human carbon dioxide emissions were lower does not mean that the heightened global temperatures have nothing to do with human emissions. Another pseudoscientific argument is that there are still cold temperatures that top the records. Phohanka declares that “October 2009 U.S. temperatures according to NOAA were the third coldest in 115 years of record keeping, 4 degrees below the average temperature for this month.” Phohanka’s information is both scientific and true but global warming is called GLOBAL warming because it is the warming of the average global temperature. This means that different regions of the world may be experiencing different climates, even record breaking cold weather, but on average the entirety of the world is getting hotter. Phohanka’s information is, like the other pseudoscientific arguments, meaningless because it is just looking at the small picture. Global warming is an increase over a period of time and within this time there are smaller ups and downs. If a researcher only looks at a small window of time, like what happened during the global cooling scare, the temperature may look like it is decreasing. If this window of time is expanded, a researcher will see alternating hot and cold periods where the cold periods become increasingly warmer and the hot periods become increasingly hotter. Bill Butler confirmed this with a graph of the temperature recordings by the four major climate databases NASA/GISS, NOAA/NCDC, HadleyCRU, and the Japan Meteorological Agency. Data from all four of these data bases show very similar temperature patterns including sharp warming in the most recent decades (Butler).
It makes sense that scientists can’t come to a complete agreement or give undeniable proof that global warming exists because there are so many variables to take into consideration. Senator James Inhofe found that “Over 400 prominent scientists from more than two dozen countries recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called ‘consensus’ on man-made global warming” (Shapley). Statistics like this help global warming opponents look like they still have a chance to prove global warming is a giant hoax. Unfortunately for the opponents of global warming these 400 “prominent” scientists are made up of 44 television weathermen, 20 economists, 84 researchers who have received money directly or indirectly from fossil fuel industries, and 59 people that have no more climate expertise than my own mother. Mark V. Johnson is the investigator that researched these scientists and any list of scientists with this much filler is bound to raise some eyebrows (Shapley). Even if these 400 scientists were highly respected they would still be in a very small minority group. A group of 3,146 scientists from around the world who were chosen from the American Geological Institute’s Directory of Geoscience Departments overwhelmingly agree that “human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures” (Francuch). Many other similar researches were completed. One such research dealt with the validity of The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s assertion that “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal” (Pachauri). The most knowledgeable scientists for this type of research are climatologists and this is why Stanford University analyzed the number of research papers published “by more than 900 climate researchers” and the “number of times these researchers’ works were cited by other scientists” (Kaiser). Tiffany Kaiser stated in her article that “97 percent of those in the top 100 agree with and/or endorse the IPCC’s assessment.” The list of global warming proponents does not stop there. A reporter for Science Magazine wrote “The American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, all have issued statements in recent years concluding that the evidence for human modification of climate is compelling” (Oreskes). There are also 32 national scientific academies, the Academy of China, the Institut de France, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to name a few, whom have made joint declarations confirming anthropogenic global warming (“Scientific Opinion On Climate Change.”). The list goes on and on but the point is that the scientific community overwhelmingly believes that human perpetuated global warming is not a hoax. The theory of global warming is a scientific theory and for this reason there will always be a few scientists that debate the validity of the theory. This debate is what keeps all scientific theories fresh and is the reason why scientific data is the only data that should be used to prove or disprove the theory of global warming.
With the overwhelming amounts of scientific data and research in existence why do smart and well educated people believe that global warming is not real? The most overpowering answer to this question is that it’s easier to disregard global warming than it is to worry about it. Global warming is not a small problem. To fix global warming means to take on huge tasks like worldwide collaboration and lifestyle changes. There is a great depiction of this in a cartoon of a citizen announcing, “Yes, from the evidence it looks pretty likely to me that we’re causing global warming on a horrific scale. But with science you don’t need to argue. It doesn’t matter who wins the debate. It’s about reality. By just waiting a little longer, we’ll get to SEE who was right. It feels unethical, but I find myself wanting to keep quiet about the science just to know for sure. As terrible as it sounds, the state of the world isn’t really my responsibility” (“Playing Devil’s Advocate to Win”). This way of thinking, and the lack of worry, is then perpetuated by sources such as big oil companies and the media. Tyson Slocum notes in his research article that “the largest five oil companies – ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, ChevronTexaco and ConocoPhillips – spent $112 billion buying back their own stock and paying dividends, and have an extra $59.5 billion in cash” (Slocum) to show the large amounts of money that the oil companies make. The use of fossil fuels must be brought to an end in order to stop the problems created by global warming which means that the bigwigs will be losing billions of dollars. It is of no surprise then that the Union of Concerned Scientists documented how “ExxonMobil has adopted the tobacco industry’s disinformation tactics, as well as some of the same organizations and personnel, to cloud the scientific understanding of climate change and delay action on the issue” and that “ExxonMobil has funneled nearly $16 million between 1998 and 2005 to a network of 43 advocacy organizations that seek to confuse the public on global warming science” (“Scientists’ Report Documents ExxonMobil’s Tobacco-like Disinformation Campaign”). So the fossil fuel industries are responsible for the mass confusion about global warming but they do not stand alone because by “relying on the news media’s inclination to include both sides of a story, the industries were able to create the impression that scientists were deeply divided over climate change” (Nesmith). The media uses phrases such as global warming is “most likely” happening or global warming will “probably” have harsh effects on the climate. By adding uncertainties like this the media downplays the affects of global warming and inserts the possibility that global warming is still just a theory that has no data or research behind it. When people that are uneducated in the science of global warming hear uncertainty about the validity of this science it is easier to dismiss it than to accept the fact that they must change their lifestyle to fix this enormous problem.
Global warming opponents deny that there is any effort or change in lifestyle needed to save our planet. However, a change in lifestyle is completely necessary because our civilization is a giant greenhouse gas cooking pot. The United States government sorts the greenhouse gas emissions into four different sections which are transportation, residential, commercial, and industrial (“Carbon Dioxide and Greenhouse Gas.”). These sections are a huge part of our life and to adapt them to a new, cleaner, agenda will take enormous efforts. Efforts such as converting fossil fuel cars to electric cars, changing standard homes to “green” homes, and cleaning up the fossil fuel hungry industries. In other words, people are in denial that climate change is happening because the efforts necessary to cure global warming problems are colossal.
It is of the utmost importance that global warming becomes accepted as fact. The longer that deniers and opponents prolong the acceptance of global warming the more challenging it will be to reverse the effects and at a certain point they will become irreversible. Global warming does not just affect the climate over one’s city, state, or country. It affects earth as a whole and this is the reason why overlooking and prolonging the affects of climate change is so dangerous. The rise in temperatures may eventually melt the Greenland and Antarctic icecaps which would cause coastline flooding around the world. But this is not a major concern because if our society lets global warming get to this point we will already be facing deadly heat waves, a destroyed global food supply, and conceivably wars between starving nations. Also, the “Impacts of Global Warming” article adds that “‘In our calm assessments we may be overlooking things that should alarm us.’ For there might be effects that no expert could predict or even imagine, effects all the more dangerous because they would take the world by surprise.” For these reasons global warming deniers and opponents need to accept the facts and stop delaying the actions necessary to bring global warming to an end.
Global warming is not a hoax. An overwhelming majority of scientists agree that global warming is caused by humans and the scientific data that supports them is undeniable. To deny global warming is dangerous and it will take the efforts of everyone to stop the affects before it is too late. Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the official Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, states that “because of inertia built into the Earth’s natural systems, the world is now only experiencing the result of pollution emitted in the 1960s, and much greater effects will occur as the increased pollution of later decades works its way through” (Geoffrey). Dr Pachauri then ended his speech by saying, “We are risking the ability of the human race to survive.”
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(First picture borrowed from the sustainabilityman.org website, check it out, you won’t want to leave!)