Global Warming Critique Essay
Global Warming: Who’s to Blame? It seems that a single week does not go by without hearing something about global warming. It has been all over the news for as long as I can remember. Because of this media bombardment, I would be surprised to find a single person in America that does not know about global warming. I’ll also go so far as to assume that the vast majority of the people you ask will tell you that not only is global warming occurring, but humans are to blame.
In fact, John Stossel, in a special report on the TV show 20/20, says “that 86 percent of Americans say global warming is a serious problem. ” If you believe Al Gore, the debate over global warming is over (Give). Al Gore insists that global warming is happening, and that humans are most definitely to blame. However, in truth, the debate over global warming and who is to blame is far from over. The media’s fascination with global warming and climate change is not a new one. Over the past 100 years, scientists and the media have reported on countless occasions about global warming and global cooling.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, James Inhofe, makes note of this in his report to the senate titled Hot & Cold Media Spin Cycle: A Challenge to Journalists Who Cover Global Warming. He says that in 1895, the New York Times reported on an impending ice age saying “Geologists think the world nay be frozen up again” (9). He goes on to say that in 1912, the New York Times and Newsweek both ran articles on the encroaching ice age, and that it would threaten the survival of the human race (10).
Thankfully that ice age never happened and the human race was able to survive. The trend of scientists forming bad theories and the media promoting them in a rush of fear and panic did not stop at the turn of this century. In the 1930s global cooling was no longer an issue, and instead global warming was the great fear. By the 1970s, global cooling again took center stage and was hyped up by the media. Thankfully, we did not try any of the more radical approaches of stopping the global cooling problem in the 1970s. Instead, we allowed the natural fluctuations of the earth to run its course.
Glen Beck mentions in his book, An Inconvenient Book, that one of those radical ideas would have had us covering the polar ice caps with black soot to melt them (14). Imagine the damage that might have caused and the repercussions we would still be facing today. Obviously science has come a long way in the last 100 years; however we still do not fully understand our climate or environment. I wonder what people fifty years from now will think about our attempts to stop global warming like the Kyoto protocol. Scientists do agree that the earth goes through periods of warming trends and cooling trends.
This has been going on far before man was around and will conceivably continue to occur far after we are gone. From about 900 to 1300 there was a period of time known as the Medieval Warm Period which many scientists believe had even higher temperatures than today. It was during this time that the coasts of Greenland were in fact green and not covered in ice like today. There were no SUV’s, coal plants, or other large sources of greenhouse gases, and yet, global warming took place. After the Medieval Warm Period, there was a Little Ice Age from about 1500 to 1850.
As Senator James Inhofe says in his 2006 report on global warming to the senate, trying to compare today’s temperatures to those of the Little Ice Age is “akin to comparing summer to winter to show a catastrophic temperature trend” (4). Another point he makes, is that starting around 1940 and ending in the 1970s, a time when man-made carbon dioxide emission increased greatly, temperatures declined and caused many scientists to predict a coming ice age (5). According to the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in a 2007 report, over the last 100 years the global surface temperature has increased by 1. 3 ± 0. 32 °F (30). The report goes on to say that the temperature increase is “very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic (human) greenhouse gas concentrations” (39). The IPCC also says that temperatures over the next 100 years will likely increase between 2 to 11. 5 °F (45). Along with the increased temperatures we would be faced with more intense storms and by the year 2300 the sea level may rise between 11. 8in to 31. 5in (46). The IPCC paints an incredibly bleak picture of the future. However, just because one report published by a group of government lected scientists believes in global warming does not mean the scientific community as a whole agrees. John Stossel interviewed some scientists that had been a part of the IPCC and did not agree with the panel’s findings. They all left the IPCC due to their disagreement to the report’s findings, and one of them even had to threaten to sue to remove his name as a supporting scientist of the report (Give). Global Warming consensus? Hardly. John Coleman, the founder of The Weather Channel and meteorologist, mentions another piece of evidence used by global warming proponents in his collaboration Comments on Global Warming.
This piece of evidence is a graph that shows average world temperatures of the last 1000 years and was produced by climatologist Michael Mann and colleagues in 1999. This graph is often referred to as the “hockey stick” graph due to its resemblance to a hockey stick lying on its side. It shows a relatively flat temperature level until the last 150 years or so, where it suddenly shoots up, much like the end of a hockey stick. Global warming proponents use this to show proof that the large increases of co2 production, which started roughly 150 years ago, has caused global warming.
However, Coleman disputes this graph and mentions that “a congressional group formed a committee of scientists to settle the issue. ” That committee found that Mann’s graph was based on bad science and was not accurate (Coleman 5). Al Gore, in his 2006 movie An Inconvenient Truth, says that temperatures rise in direct relation to increased levels of carbon dioxide. He supports this claim with a graph showing the average global temperature and carbon dioxide levels for the past 600,000 years. In that graph, you can see a direct correlation between temperature and carbon dioxide, and as one goes up, so does the other (An Inconvenient Truth).
John Stossel shows that when you take a closer look at this graph, you can see that temperatures rise before carbon dioxide levels, often times several hundred years sooner. Maybe instead of saying that temperatures rise in direct relation to the rise of carbon dioxide, Al Gore should have said that carbon dioxide rises in direct relation to temperature increases. Further proof that Gore’s statement is incorrect, is the fact that while carbon dioxide levels have continued to increases over the past 5 years, the average global temperatures have leveled off.
This plateau did not go unnoticed as the head of the UN IPCC, Mr. Rajendra Pachauri, told Reuters. He said in regards to the plateau, “One would really have to see on the basis of some analysis what this really represents,” and continued to question, “are there natural factors compensating? ” Mr. Rajendra Pachauri shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2007 for their joint work in promoting global warming. While Al Gore and other global warming proponents try to establish a link between carbon dioxide emissions and temperature, Coleman has a better theory.
Coleman theorizes that the sun plays the largest part in our climatic changes. Since 1775, when solar cycles were first tracked, there is a very clear match between solar activity and temperature (10). What this means is that when the sun is more active and putting out more energy, global temperatures increase. On the opposite side, if sun activity is down, temperatures would decrease as well. In fact, Coleman goes on to say that “according to the NASA solar experts, Earth is emerging from an 11-year solar cycle that began in May of 1996” (11).
This could explain our increased temperatures in the late 90s and why temperatures have started to plateau and may even begin to drop in the coming years. One of the things that cannot be disputed is that as carbon dioxide emissions have increased, so has the quality of life. Technological advances have allowed those of us in developed nations to live longer, healthier, and happier lives. Because of the burning of fossil fuels, we have developed the technologies that allow us to survive extreme weather.
A severe storm that hits a developed nation will cause far less devastation and loss of life then one that hits an under developed nation. Developed nations fare better in catastrophic storms not only due to the better building construction, but also the improved infrastructure and communication networks which allow for advance warning and evacuations. It can also be argued that an increase of temperature is not a bad thing and is actually beneficial. Throughout history the most prosperous times have been during periods of warmth. With increased temperatures more land would be vailable for farming, and as Coleman points out, farm production has increased proportionally to the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (7). Climate change, not global warming, is a great concern to our future. However, we need to conduct further research into what is actually causing it and whether there is even anything we can do to prevent it from happening. Currently, the majority of the research as well as the media are concentrated on solving what man has done. Yet, we cannot be certain that we are the cause, let alone that we can fix it.
People fear that the cost of doing nothing is too great and so we must do something. I fear that the cost of doing something when uniformed can have far greater consequences. Instead we should continue to research, innovate, and adapt. I feel that Coleman sums up the global warming scare the best saying, “It is the greatest scam in history. I am amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global Warming… it is a SCAM” (2). Works Cited An Inconvenient Truth. Dir. Davis Guggenheim. Perf. Al Gore, Billy West. 2006. DVD. Paramount. 2006. Beck, Glenn. An Inconvenient Book.
New York: Threshold Edition, 2007. Coleman, John. Comments on Global Warming. 20 Mar. 2008. 17 Nov. 2008.. Doyle, Alister. “World warming despite cool Pacific and Baghdad snow. ” 11 Jan. 2008. Reuters. 01 Nov. 2008. . “Give Me a Break: Global Warming. ” 20/20. ABC. 16 Nov. 2008. . Inhofe, James. Hot & Cold Media Spin Cycle: A Challenge to Journalists Who Cover Global Warming. 25 Sep. 2006. 01 Nov. 2008 . United Nations. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report. 06 Aug. 2008. 16 Nov. 2008 < http://www. ipcc. ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr. pdf>.