For ten to twenty years there has been much political discourse whether the earth is warming due to the CO2 (carbon dioxide) released by mankind's use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. Some notables such as Al Gore have championed the cause and is predicting dire results unless we act now to restrict CO2 emissions. Others say there is no need to act. The following is a summary of the reasoning of the two positions.
We need to restrict CO2 emissions now!
Main Reference: Earthguide; UC, San Diego
- Global warming has been occurring since 1910. Many of the most recent years have been the warmest on record.
- It is accepted fact that greenhouse gases keep the earth warm by blocking earth's natural radiation of heat. Since carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will produce a rise in temperatures.
- Historical data stored in ice samples taken from glaciers, show a strong relationship between rising CO2 and rising earth temperatures.
- Computer models predict that we may have only seen a 1/3 of the full warming effects that even our current elevated CO2 levels will eventually produce. The warming effects are being slowed by the oceans ability to store heat. Consequently, we need to act now before we unleash a massive unstoppable climate change.
- Significant increases in severe storms, more droughts and the melting of glaciers leading to coastal flooding are predicted by the computer models if we do not stop the rise in CO2
- The documented shrinking of many old mountain glaciers is proof the earth's climate is warming.
- It is the consensus of atmospheric scientists that mankind's release of CO2 in the last century has caused the observed warming.
- There is no compelling evidence that the observed overall warming is not caused by man. The burden of proof is on those who think the changes are caused by natural causes.
- Since we do not know what the effects of increased CO2 on our environment, we must act now to limit it's emissions until we better understand it's effects.
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There is no need to restrict CO2 emissions.
Main Reference: Dr. John Christy UA Huntsville Lecture
- Since the industrial age started, the average global temperature rise has been a little over 1°F. That amount of temperature rise has not caused any noticeable problems.
- The computer models used to predict the catastrophic effects of increased CO2 emissions are significantly inconsistent with actual measured global temperatures. Current computer models are way too unreliable to be used to justify a costly CO2 reduction policy.
- Contrary to the computer predictions, actual records of tornados and hurricanes do not show a pattern of increased activity.
- The climate has always been changing. Pictures of retreating mountain glaciers are not proof of global warming. They have increased in size and retreated many times before man.
- The cost of the remedies recommended by the proponents would cause our standard of living to drop dramatically.
- There is not a consensus of opinion about CO2's role in Global Warming. CO2 is a minor green house gas. The most important one is water vapor. A lot of respectable scientists doubt the effects of CO2 will be nearly as bad as predicted. See: Petition Project
- There are other possible explanations for global warming. There is a strong correlation between the Sun's output and the Earth's average temperature. It has been even noted by NASA that Mar's ice caps are also shrinking. Article
- There are studies that show that there is a strong relationship between glacial periods and periods of reduced solar radiation on the upper northern hemisphere due to the wobble of the earth's axis and variations in the earth's slightly elliptical orbit. NOAA Report
- If in the future, actual global temperatures actually reached critical temperatures, there are ways to force a cooling of the atmosphere by simulating the dust of volcanoes. NYT Article
- With this amount of uncertainty, the best approach is to not to try to outguess nature but instead do what we have always done: adapt.