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Global Warming: Myth or Reality?

By: Kathryn Senior PhD - Updated: 21 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Global Warming Myth Reality Debate

Although governments around the world have signed up to international treaties to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions produced to prevent an escalation in global warming, there are people, some of them scientists, who dismiss this environmental threat as pure myth. There are several lines of evidence that are a source of debate between those on both sides.

The Rise in Average Global Temperature

The graphs showing a steady increase in average global temperatures since the industrial revolution are often cited by those who believe global warming is caused by excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. They argue that there is a strong correlation between our increased production of carbon dioxide, an established greenhouse gas, and this temperature increase. Those on the other side of the argument say that the way the readings have been taken is the cause of error. Although said to be average temperatures, the readings are taken in urban areas, which are ‘hot spots. Overall, the average global temperatures have not increased.

Human Activity is Causing Climate Change

Data released by the United Nations shows that there has been a gradual increase in global temperatures over the last 1000 years but this has speeded up dramatically since the start of the industrial revolution, causing the start of climate change. Weather disturbances, rising temperatures, rising sea levels etc add weight to this theory. People who disagree point out that the Earth has very long climate change cycles that are completely natural and say that it is impossible to link human production of carbon dioxide with climate change over such a short period of Earth’s history.

Carbon Dioxide is Bad News for the Environment

This is a point that causes huge debate because there is a lot of misunderstanding about carbon dioxide. This is a natural component of the Earth’s atmosphere and without it, life on Earth could not exist. Plants use it in the process of photosynthesis. It is also true that without some carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the temperature on Earth would be so cold that life could not survive. The greenhouse effect is a necessary part of the Earth’s electric blanket that keeps our temperatures in the range where living things thrive.

Seeing beyond all that, those that believe that carbon dioxide levels are increasing because of burning fossil fuels and other activities and so causing too much of the greenhouse effect, warn that we must reduce carbon emissions to keep the Earth in balance. Those who believe carbon dioxide levels are within normal limits argue that the increase in temperature is smaller than commonly reported, and due to normal planetary cycles.

Computer Models Predict Environmental Changes

Many computer models have been used in many laboratories in the world. The scientists who have developed and used them have made them as accurate as possible and their predictions are that we are producing too much carbon dioxide. If this continues, global warming will continue and climate change will occur. Those against simply argue that computer models are not accurate and can be manipulated to say anything. However, this is not a strong argument – this is one of the objections that seems to be based on believe and opinion rather than looking at the data used and the way that computer models work.

Sea Levels are Rising and Ice Caps are Melting

The media is keen to report reductions in the polar ice caps and incidences of flooding and sea level rises as these are often linked to global warming and climate change. Scientists believe that the increase in global temperatures is causing significant changes to the polar ice caps and sea level rises are inevitable, posing a threat to low lying areas. Those that dispute this say that this is all part of the natural processes of the Earth and not a result of human activity. They point to specific areas of the world where the sea level data shows no change and say that Antarctic ice caps are growing, as temperatures there are falling.

Myth or Reality?

Most issues like this in which there is lively debate and dispute are never resolved. In one way it is up to the individual to decide which side they take and what they believe by looking at the evidence and arguments more closely. The problem with global warming is that if we believe it is a myth and it turns out to be reality, the planet and the human race is in deep trouble as it will be too late to do anything about it once the problem has become so bad there is no debate. If we believe it’s real and it turns out that this is not the case, the only problem we might have is a tarnished ego.

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