The Climate Change Debate:
Every year, almost 7 billion tons of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere by human activity (“How do we contribute individually to global warming. ” Global Warming: 2006. Web. 12 Oct. 2011). That is the equivalent of 107,700,000 jet airplanes being in the air at once! This harrowing figure is the main cause of global warming, and has been increasing for the last 50 years. Global warming is caused by the increase of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane primarily, in the earth’s upper atmosphere directly caused by human burning of fossil fuels, industrial, farming, and deforestation activities.
Global warming is defined as an increase in the average temperature of the earth’s atmosphere (especially a sustained increase that causes climatic changes). Many people believe in these statements, but there are many people around the world that refuse to believe that human contributions are the main cause of global warming, saying that the increase is part of the natural climatic change of earth. Debatable causes and solutions of this theory of global warming include the natural climatic change, the grounds of human causes, and the solutions we can take to halt global warming.
As humans, we all have our own opinions. The surface of the earth has been warming, the average temperature increasing, for several years. People studying this do not agree on the cause of the warming trend. Some say that man has caused the change; others claim that it is a natural trend. For several years believers and skeptics have argued about the cause of global warming. The problem is complicated because believers warn that man-made causes if left to advance too far may be irreversible.
Reduction of the rainforests, continued growth in hydrocarbon industries, increases in livestock, and depletion of the ozone are all considered factors in the debate. Skeptics maintain that the climate change is a natural phenomenon, that man’s effect on nature is largely overrated. The debate isn’t whether the globe has been heating in the last 70 or so years, it’s whether man is the cause (anthropomorphic global warming) or nature. The current heating trend is identical to historical ones (i. e. he temperature increases proceeded CO2 increases). These gases persist in the atmosphere for years, meaning that even if such emissions were eliminated today, it would not immediately stop global warming. Some experts point out those natural cycles in Earth’s orbit can alter the planet’s exposure to sunlight, which may explain the current trend. Earth has indeed experienced warming and cooling cycles roughly every hundred thousand years due to these orbital shifts, but such changes have occurred over the span of several centuries.
People have also begun to link global warming to the sun in the last decade. Some people do support this issue, like John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Christy says, “The carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is distributed [very] evenly around the globe and not concentrated in the Arctic, so we can’t blame greenhouse gases for the Northern Hemisphere warming over the past 27 years. The most likely suspect for [warming] is a natural climate change or cycle that we didn’t expect or just don’t understand. This quote describes a natural cause to global warming, and refrains from relating to cause by carbon dioxide emissions from humans Also the views of David Bellamy, a conservationist, and Dr Sami Solanki, the director of Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, include that the majority of people are seeing global warming in the wrong light and that the brightness of the sun is directly related to the warming of the Earth in the last century (Leidig and Nikkhah 1). The sun is a popular resource for natural cause of global warming, but there are scarce amounts of evidence on this information.
Sallie Baliunas, an astrophysicist, believes that the sun is the main culprit of global warming, and that its varying activity is the cause for the global warming. As a strong scientist of her field, Baliunas supports her opinion with many statistics that prove that the sun does cause changes in the earth’s climate. However, by stating that the sun is the only reason for global warming, she is quite a biased individual. The evidence presented by these scholars is very influential in the scientific community, contradicting the mainstream idea that humans are to blame; because more complicated solar mechanisms could possibly play a role.
Thus the atmosphere admits of the entrance of the solar heat, but checks its exit. The result is a tendency to accumulate heat at the surface of the planet. In 1988 the U. N. sets up a scientific authority to vet the evidence on global warming, the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Dr. Hansen was the lead author of a famous study in 1988; whose results he presented to US Congress that year, using a climate model to project how much the planet would warm over the next few decades in three different scenarios. In Scenario A, human greenhouse gas emissions accelerated apidly. In Scenario B, which has turned out to be closest to reality, greenhouse gas emissions increased at a steady rate. In Scenario C, greenhouse gas emissions rose until flattening out in 2000, basically assuming the world would take major steps to reduce our emissions by that time. Dr. Hansen, who is now widely considered one of the foremost climate scientists in the world, has grown increasingly concerned about the threat posed by man-made global warming and climate change, and our failure to seriously address this threat. On June 23rd of 2008 Dr.
James Hansen speaks out again, he argues that a path yielding energy independence and a healthier environment is, barely, still possible. It requires a transformative change of direction in Washington in the next year”. On June 23, 1988 He testified to a hearing, organized by Senator Tim Wirth of Colorado, that the Earth had entered a long-term warming trend and that human-made greenhouse gases almost surely were responsible. He noted that global warming enhanced both extremes of the water cycle, meaning stronger droughts and forest fires, on the one hand, but also heavier rains and floods.
His testimony two decades ago was greeted with skepticism. But while skepticism is the lifeblood of science, it can confuse the public. As scientists examine a topic from all perspectives, it may appear that nothing is known with confidence. From such broad open-minded study of all data, valid conclusions can be drawn. His conclusions in 1988 were built on a wide range of inputs from basic physics, planetary studies, observations of on-going changes, and climate models. The evidence was strong enough that he could say it was time to “stop waffling. ” He was sure that time would bring the scientific community to a similar consensus, as it has.
While international recognition of global warming was swift, actions have faltered. The U. S. refused to place limits on its emissions, and developing countries such as China and India rapidly increased their emissions (“ Tipping Points Near on Global Warming. ” Twenty years later. 2008. Web. 12 Oct 2011). In 1992 the creation of the UN framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC) at the Rio summit, which also calls for voluntary cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. In 1997 UNFCCC countries sign the Kyoto Protocol. The goal of the Kyoto Protocol is to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions to 5. percent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. Compared to the emissions levels that would occur by 2010 without the Kyoto Protocol, however, this target actually represents a 29 percent cut. The Kyoto Protocol sets specific emissions reduction targets for each industrialized nation, but excludes developing countries. To meet their targets, most ratifying nations would have to combine several strategies: place restrictions on their biggest polluters, manage transportation to slow or reduce emissions from automobiles, make better use of renewable energy sources such as solar power, wind power, and biodiesel in place of fossil fuels.
Most of the world’s industrialized nations support the Kyoto Protocol. One notable exception is the United States, which releases more greenhouse gases than any other nation and accounts for more than 25 percent of those generated by humans worldwide. Australia also declined. The Kyoto Protocol was negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997. It was opened for signature on March 16, 1998, and closed a year later. Under terms of the agreement, the Kyoto Protocol would not take effect until 90 days after it was ratified by at least 55 countries involved in the UNFCCC.
Another condition was that ratifying countries had to represent at least 55 percent of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions for 1990. The first condition was met on May 23, 2002, when Iceland became the 55th country to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. When Russia ratified the agreement in November 2004, the second condition was satisfied, and the Kyoto Protocol entered into force on February 16, 2005. As a U. S. presidential candidate, George W. Bush promised to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Shortly after he took office in 2001, however, President Bush withdrew U. S. upport for the Kyoto Protocol and refused to submit it to Congress for ratification. By the end of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012, a new international framework needs to have been negotiated and ratified that can deliver the stringent emission reductions the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has clearly indicated are needed. Instead, Bush proposed a plan with incentives for U. S. businesses to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions 4. 5 percent by 2010, which he claimed would equal taking 70 million cars off the road. According to the U.
S. Department of Energy, however, the Bush plan actually would result in a 30 percent increase in U. S. greenhouse gas emissions over 1990 levels instead of the 7 percent reduction the treaty requires. That’s because the Bush plan measures the reduction against current emissions instead of the 1990 benchmark used by the Kyoto Protocol. While his decision dealt a serious blow to the possibility of U. S. participation in the Kyoto Protocol, Bush wasn’t alone in his opposition. Prior to negotiation of the Kyoto Protocol, the U. S. Senate passed a resolution saying the U. S. hould not sign any protocol that failed to include binding targets and timetables for either developing and industrialized nations or that “would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States. ” The majority of the population of the Earth believes that Global Warming is an effect of the burning of fossil fuels. According to the Stanford Solar Center, Global Warming is attributed to the increase of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and methane) in the Earth’s atmosphere, caused by human burning of fossil fuels, industrial, farming, and deforestation activities (1).
The affects we humans have on the environment seem to be popping up all the time, and many think that global warming is our defining effect on the Earth. We as humans should be able to understand our fossil fuel burning habits enough to stop the increase of carbon dioxide every year. Many sources mark the Industrial Revolution as the beginning of current global warming. While many scientists agree that air pollution at that time started the current trend and that human activity is to blame, others believe that climate change is part of the natural global progression, and that human activity will neither worsen nor improve our situation.
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