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robmandu's avatar

Are Americans leading another globally unpopular war (against global warming)?

Asked by robmandu (21203 points ) November 17th, 2008

The Telegraph.co.uk posted an article by Christopher Booker about Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies misrepresenting this past October as the hottest on record, when it was actually the 44th coolest in the past 114 years.

What I found interesting were all the comments following the article. From what I saw, they seem to lean heavily towards global warming being a contrived hoax.

What does the international Fluther crowd think? Have Americans gone off the deep end on this issue, too?

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16 Answers

Megan64's avatar

I don’t think it’s a hoax. I hope if we do decide to do something about global warming, we don’t call it a “war” on it. Hope it’s called something more positive.

Also, if we end up bailing out the auto industry, we should require that they start manufacturing fuel-efficient and/or hybrid vehicles.

kfingerman's avatar

Absolutely not. Climate change is happening and we’re causing it. There is a broad scientific consensus at this point. What to do about it an how is a questions about which reasonable people continue to disagree. There are still skeptics, but they are fewer, farther between…and crazier. Furthermore, America is far from “leading” this charge. The U.S. is by far the biggest contributor to this problem, yet has consistently stood in the way of progress towards a solution. If the tide in this is changing, great. But we’re still playing catch-up.

nocountry2's avatar

Even if it were a hoax, and there was no hole in the ozone – have you seen the air in LA, or Dallas, or China lately? Gross. Who wants to live in that world? I think human beings are a very polluting species but fortunately capable of changing their habits. The increased quality of and ease to access to information will increase the pace of changing habits.

shrubbery's avatar

Have you noticed how it’s not as popular to say “Global Warming” anymore as “Climate Change”? Though they may represent the same thing I think there is a subtle difference in the two phrases. Global Warming, to me, indicates that our actions are directly heating up the atmosphere, whereas Climate Change indicates that it is a more natural thing that might have happened anyway (though I don’t doubt that we have sped it up to some degree) and it doesn’t necessarily mean the world is going to get red hot and all the ice is going to melt.

I think that we can’t stop changes from happening, but if we really want to we can lessen the effects that we humans have on the environment that are harmful, that are making things worse for everybody and that are wiping out flora and fauna.

I think that we need to work together, everyone, without blaming anyone for making the most pollution or anything like that, to make the world a better place so that we can ride out the inevitable changes together while minimising the harm to the earth. Idealistic? Maybe. But what can you do without hope?

P.S I love this comment on the article: “If any Global Warming ever occurs it will be caused as a direct result of all the hot air that is constantly produced by the big lying mouths of politicians worldwide.” :D

Maverick's avatar

The US is certainly no where remotely close to “leading” the charge against climate change, having blocked every significant attempt to address it for over 8 years now. And if your one of the 5 or so morons that still somehow think it’s not real, travel to Northern Canada where entire communities are being relocated because the ice shelf that they are built on (which has been inhabited for a least several thousand years) is almost completly gone. Or go to Tuvalu where the islands are disappearing under the sea due to the rising water levels caused by melting ice caps. Actually, I’m positive you can see the evidence anywhere on the planet, but those 2 examples are the canary in the coalmine.

damien's avatar

I thought the argument was not whether global warming is happening or not (pretty hard to say it’s not!) but whether it’s a direct result of our actions or just one of the natural cycles the planet goes through…??

Maverick's avatar

Thats what the oil companies want you to think. All credible scientists agree, it’s us. There is no debate remaining what-so-ever.

laureth's avatar

The Telegraph is a conservative paper. It’s not at the same level of Conservative as, say, Rush Limbaugh or Fox News, but it’s going to be that side of center. And those are the same folks who decry global warming/climate change in the U.S., too.

Reputable scientists the world over acknowledge global warming; it’s the U.S. that is lagging behind.

dynamicduo's avatar

I think it’s extremely presumptuous for humans to assume they caused climate change. The simple fact of it is that we have only been reliably collecting data regarding the Earth’s patterns since 1880. Compared to the existence of the Earth at 4.5 billion years, 120-odd years is nothing, not even a drop in the DROP in the sea. How can we be sure this isn’t just the Earth doing its own thing? There’s no real way to know for sure.

That said, I do agree on some of the actions proposed, such as transitioning to non polluting energy sources simply because fossil fuel is a limited resource and will be depleted eventually. As well, electricity conservation/more efficient uses of electricity is also something I support because there’s a lot of wasted energy nowadays due to our past attitudes.

But it would be dumb for the world to stop and focus all of its effort on “solving” climate change, just as it would be dumb for the world to not give one care about climate change. I think the world should strive in becoming less wasteful and more clean for the respect of the next generations and each other, but most importantly for the respect of the planet we live on.

Maverick's avatar

Actually, we have quite detailed written records of weather patterns and major climate related events going back at least as far as the ancient Greeks (actually much further) so your premise is on pretty shaky footing right from the outset. Furthermore, for most of the Earth’s existence, it’s atmosphere would not have been hospitipal to human life (very high levels of CO2), which we are artificially re-creating now. So, if your argument is that it isn’t a big deal because it’s happened before then I can only say that your line of reasoning only makes sense assuming you place no value on the continuation of human life. At any rate, even if facts and logic doesn’t compel some to take action against climate change then surely they would still prefer to live in a smog free world. It’s not like their aren’t countless other benefits to curbing our greenhouse gas emissions.

kfingerman's avatar

A couple of things
1) Regarding the phrasing: “global warming” has fallen from vogue in this discussion because it implies that the earth heating up is the main or the only issue here. In reality, everything from alterations in ocean circulation, increase in extreme weather events, changes in species distribution, even cooling in some areas, etc are all part of this process – i.e. changes in climate.
2) @Dynamicduo – While it might seem presumptuous to think we’re changing the planet’s climate, that’s exactly what’s going on. Yes, we have only been collecting data since the 1800s, but we have scientific tools to look much farther back. Ice layers at the poles are laid down every year and freeze bubbles into the ice. From cores of the ice, we can read things like CO2 concentrations, even historic temperatures (from water isotopic analyses). Yes, the earth has gone through changes over time – the planet’s orbit changes slightly on a periodic basis, the tilt of its axis also wobbles, etc. All of these things change the climate. What has emphatically never happened before is anything at this scale happening this quickly.

I spend a lot of time thinking about and working on climate science issues and I promise you that the science is pretty bulletproof at this point. Certainly science is never sure, that’s one of its strengths, it’s contingent on future developments and I would be happy to see this disproven, but I think most people who do this for a living would agree that that is VERY unlikely. At this point we need to act, if only in the name of precaution. The consequences would (will?) be dire.

critter1982's avatar

I’m not sure whether I personally believe that our automotive and industry carbon emmissions are causing global warming? I’m not an expert and can only listen to both sides.

What seems to be unfortunate at this point though at least in the US, is that the term “global warming” has become a partisan issue. Democrats argue and fight for it while, Republicans argue against it. Even though republicans seem to argue against it, a general consensus among them is that we should be taking care of our earth. Because of this the conservatives tend to want change, but disagree on how things should be done, how quickly they should be done, and how much money should be spent.

For me personally, it’s hard to imagine that the additional CO2 we emit into the atmosphere isn’t doing anything? Perhaps my belief is that it is speeding up the inevitable process by supplementing other unstoppable causes, but instigating this process I highly doubt. Another unfortunate issue we face is that automotive and industry emissions are not even the leading contributor to greenhouse gases. It is the food industry that generates a larger portion of the emissions. Why do we spend little to no time better regulating these food emissions? The population continues to grow increasing the demand for these high CO2 emitting foods, and this will only continue to grow as we fight the automotive industries to make more and design better fuel efficient and less CO2 emitting cars.

BTW to a comment earlier that US was the largest greenhouse gas emitter is not true. China overtook the US in greenhouse gas emissions in 2006.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Look at the coral reefs and then tell me global warming is a hoax.

j2saret's avatar

As it turns out (and I will get you the link) when the carbon based energy companies brought their reports and testimony to the US Senate during Republican control, the reports for “unknown” reasons left out the section where their own scientists said that global warming was unquestioned and primarily caused by human activity. The link is:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/24/science/earth/24deny.html?_r=2&emc=eta1

the title of the article is: Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate.
The scientists blog RealClimate.org is a great place to begin when you have questions about the actual science behind climate change and the distortions that the denial industry promulgates. Its an international blog with a large base of both contributors and responders. There you will find that yes the US war against the reality of global warming (now probably over since the elections) is widely unpopular,

critter1982's avatar

@j2saret: How about a non-biased link?

j2saret's avatar

Pray tell what is biased about the new york times reporting on the actual documents that a court trial turned up? It was not an editorial, it was not a report on some person or orginazation’s opinion about global warming, it was a news report on what actual documents that the denial (big carbon) industry presented to the US Senate, and what was removed (the report does not say why or how) from them before they were put into the record. You may think a preference for facts is a bias. I just call fact based reality much better than the alternative which is fantasy.
Perhaps you can show me how the link in biased, and perhaps you can show me how the bias is mistaken, because a bias for the truth is not a flaw. I eagerly await your response.

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