The global warming debate
There can hardly be a debate about global warming when all the facts are on one side, and there is only denial on the other. Let’s look at the evidence that is telling us that global warming is real. The past decade was the hottest on record, and ten of the hottest years have occurred since 1991. Earth’s average temperature increased one degree Fahrenheit during the last century, most of that rise occurring since 1970. And in the Arctic, average temperatures have gone up 2-5 degrees Fahrenheit just since 2000. The Arctic Ice Cap has shrunk dramatically – 280,000 square miles in area in 2005 alone, and 20 percent in thickness since 1970, and within a few years could disappear completely. The Greenland Ice Cap is shrinking twice as fast as predicted. The permafrost line in North America and Eurasia is rapidly moving north. Since 1970, summers have become longer and winters shorter by a week at each end – even more in Arctic regions. Ocean temperatures, which are slow to change, are also on the rise. Both plants and animals are moving toward higher elevations and closer to the poles as temperatures rise.In the face of overwhelming evidence, there is little room for denying that global warming is real. The only question remaining is the effect human activities are having on climate change. Here again there is strong evidence that our mushrooming burning of fossil fuels is a major cause of global warming.With the aid of ice core samples penetrating the Greenland Ice Cap, it has been found that there is a close correlation between atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and fluctuations in atmospheric temperatures. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is presently at the highest level in at least 400,000 years, and has been rising at an accelerating rate in lock step with the world’s combustion of fossil fuels.Yet there are those who would rather believe the nonsense put out by the misleadingly labeled Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, which promotes a phony list of 17,000 “scientists” (some of whom are fictitious and few of whom are scientists), who deny that there is any greenhouse-gas problem at all. They refer to Jerry Falwell; and George Will, who loves to recount the story about climatologist George Miller, who among others in 1970, predicted a period of global cooling, based on irregularities in the earth’s orbit and rotation. Since it didn’t turn out that way, Will and Falwell chuckle that “The climatologists were wrong in 1970, so why should we believe them now?”The alarming truth is that all other things being equal, the long-term geophysical cycles would have produced a cooling effect, which means that the global warming we are experiencing is being driven exclusively by increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere as a result of the world’s escalating combustion of fossil fuels. The fact that global warming is occurring when natural forces would have produced a cooling period, leaves little room to doubt that we are the cause of that warming.Unless the world’s leaders get serious about the problem, it will only get worse. Global warming can feed on itself, potentially triggering runaway warming of the planet. Shrinkage of polar ice caps reduces the amount of solar energy that is being reflected back into space; carbon dioxide, and methane, a greenhouse gas with twenty times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide, are being released from thawing permafrost at a rate five times faster than expected; and higher global temperatures will increase the prevalence of drought and insect infestation of our forests, which in turn will increase their die-off, setting the stage for more and bigger forest fires, which will further increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The end result will be a rise in sea levels, which will have a catastrophic impact on hundreds of major cities located on the world’s seacoasts.
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