Climate Change: Two Opposing Views

962 words | 4 page(s)

An international group of scientists participated in a survey. The purpose of the survey was to address predictions regarding Earth’s short term and long term future as it pertains to climate change. Some scientists don’t subscribe to the terrifying predictions about anthropogenic climactic tragedies (such as complete melting of polar ice caps and disappearance of coastal cities due to sea levels rising). However, there was a divide among them because some believe that global warming is a serious threat while others believe that Earth is heading towards a cooling period. The explanations are as varied as the theories they support. Some scientists believe that levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are climbing exponentially and that it will create a runaway train of global warming-related catastrophes. Other scientists believe that global warming alarmists have a political agenda and their claims are groundless. Finally, there is an alternative theory that could possibly explain the reason for climate change. Cyclic sunspot activity could justify Earthly warming and cooling periods.

Al Gore (who is not a scientist) published a book and a film entitled, “Inconvenient Truth”1. He presented tons of convincing quantitative data that showed carbon dioxide levels climbing over the past few decades. Those rising levels correspond to Earth’s temperature changes and reduction in polar ice. No matter which side of the debate scientists occupy, they can all agree that recklessly adding more pollution to the atmosphere is not a good idea. An interesting article was published suggesting ways to manage the problem of increasing atmospheric pollution. The researchers obviously agree with the idea that global warming is a serious issue that warrants immediate attention. Whether or not Al Gore’s reports are truly accurate, the wisest thing to do is avoid further abuse of Earth and her natural resources.

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There are great explanations for both global warming and cooling (due to sunspot cycles). More importantly, scientists have published suggestions on how to protect planet Earth from man’s neglectful ways.

By definition, global warming is the result of something called the greenhouse effect. Gases like carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane along with other gases behave like the glass of a botanical greenhouse. In this glass, hot air from the sunlight becomes trapped. Excessive amounts of it have been blamed for elevated global temperatures recorded by scientists. The consequences should not be taken for granted. For example, the Jakobshavn glacier looks completely different now than when it was first photographed in 1850. The glacier retreat has been greater and faster than ever before starting in 1997. Landmasses are not the only canaries in the mine. Increased carbon dioxide in the air makes the oceans more acidic and alters oceanic calcium. Not only have scientists observed a decline in coral reef health, but the symbiotic relationship that corals share with zooxanthellae has been adversely affected as well. Evidence from various scientific studies suggests “a significant impact of global warming is already discernible in animal and plant populations.” 2 An example of such evidence includes Scotch Angus and Mountain Ringlet butterflies. The habitats and resources of this and other animal species have been damaged by elevated CO2 levels.

Earth has always endured natural disasters. It is understandable that tectonic plates shift and naturally cyclic changes occur. The main cause for alarm is the frequency coupled with intensity of Earth’s extreme events.

For those who agree that the blame points to global warming, alleviating the stressors imposed on the Earth will take a human effort on an international scale. The human contribution to the problem has been confirmed by 78 scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They recommend that all nations immediately work to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

To the opposite extreme, some scientists have predicted a guaranteed new ice age on the horizon with incredible devastation. They claim that humans are simply experiencing typical climate cycles and that a heating planet is not the problem. Warm and cold periods have been attributed to cyclic, naturally occurring solar events. Earth has been shown to have cooler temperatures during a decline in sunspot activities. In 1984 author P. Ferrara3 wrote, “During the period 1645 to 1715, the low point of the Little Ice Age, the number of sunspots declined to zero for the entire time”. History has shown an alignment between atmospheric and oceanic temperatures and sunspots. Because of this, Ferrara believes a new ice age may be on the way.

In conclusion, addressing the issue of climate change requires more than just complaining, casting blame on nations, reciting data and historical climate records. Tackling the issue requires proposing realistic solutions after evaluating the risk factors. Ottmar Edenhofer and others view the atmosphere as “a global common-pool resource in its function as a sink for CO2 and other greenhouse gases.” They published some reasonable ideas for controlling carbon dioxide elevation caused by globally accumulated industrial pollutants.

They are calling for national and sub-national action along with international cooperation for governance of the planet’s atmosphere. Global warming and global cooling due to reduced sunspots are two opposing theories. Nonetheless as Edenhofer points out, adding pollution to the atmosphere cannot possibly be helpful under any circumstances.

  • Edenhofer, Ottmar, Christian Flachsland, Michael Jakob, and Kai Lessmann. “The Atmosphere as a Global Commons – Challenges for International Cooperation and Governance.” The Harvard Project on Climate Agreements , August 2013, 13-58.
  • Ferrara, Peter. “To The Horror Of Global Warming Alarmists, Global Cooling Is Here.” Forbes. Last modified 2013. http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterferrara/2013/05/26/to-the-horror-of-global-warming-alarmists-global-cooling-is-here/.
  • Gugenheim, D., and A. Gore. “An Inconvenient Truth (2006).” IMDb. Last modified 2006. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0497116/.
  • Root, Terry L., Jeff T. Price, Kimberly R. Hall, Stephen H. Schneider, Cynthia Rosenzweig, and J. A. Pounds. “Fingerprints of Global Warming on Wild Animals and Plants.” International Weekly Journal of Science 421 (November 2003).

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