General Question

blaksquid's avatar

Is Global Warming for real?

Asked by blaksquid (71points) April 23rd, 2009

I heard a couple of guys, one was a republican and the other a democrat having a heated discussion about global warming as to whether its scientifically a proven fact or just a myth and it got me to thinking, is global warming something real or is it the far left extremists way of praying on the fears of the “common folk” to make billions of dollars so they can live in luxury? The guy that founded the weather channel, has strongly denied that global warming is real and that people like Al Gore, who has no knowledge on anything related to the ozone layer, greenhouse effects, etc., are using this idea of global warming as a way to scam everyone. Anyone have an opinion on this?

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16 Answers

unused_bagels's avatar

there’s lots of proof on either side. My best advice is to look at as much research on both sides as you can, then decide for yourself (personally, I’m not convinced it exists, or that humans caused it, but I’m not entirely sure yet)

willbrawn's avatar

Better question. Should we believe someone who believes in Man Bear Pig?

Les's avatar

Climate change, not ‘global warming’.
I’m a meteorologist, I do think there is a change in our climate and that one of the reasons for that is manmade emissions. I do not think that climate change is entirely the fault of man; the earth is a cyclic system. We have natural phases of cold and warm. But the overwhelming data and information suggests that we as a species are causing a change in the cycle.

Another thing I want to point out is that “the ozone layer” does not really have anything to do with climate change. But you can ask me about that if you want more info, I just want to make sure it is clear that climate change and ozone depletion are two separate issues, and there is no evidence that one exacerbates the other.

The only other thing I’m going to say about this, because it is such a heated topic, is that, surprisingly, politicians don’t always have the answer. Al Gore did a good thing getting the message out, acting as a spokesperson for scientists, but he is no scientist. I suggest everyone takes a look for themselves at the evidence scientists provide us, and make the judgment for yourself. The way I see it, we as a society can decide to clean up our act by reducing emissions and our impact on the environment. Either way, it seems to be a win win situation

unused_bagels's avatar

@willbrawn “I told you he was real!!”

Introverted_Leo's avatar

Like Les says, it’s best if you do some research and make your own decisions about it. I did a short research paper on it a couple years ago, talked to an actual climatoligist about it. It was funny b/c I was searching for known “global warming skeptics,” as they were a minority voice at the time, and his name was one of nearly a hundred that were on the list at the time; he just happened to be on my campus! Anyways, after everything I looked at I decided for myself that is was way more of a natural occurance than the fault of man. There’re a lot of articles and videos out there, especially on the internet, and if you can digest actual scientific literature (some of it’s pretty dense) that’s going to be an even better source. I think most colleges, at least, let you look at that sort of stuff through their online research databases.

As far as ploys and scams go…well, the idea of carbon credits, for one, is entirely rediculous and a waste of people’s time and money and doesn’t solve anything but filling its advocate’s wallets with more “green.” It’s really like a modern-day indulgences system. I do think some people are out there just to get their money’s worth from all of this, and I hate that the whole green movement had to be spurred so strongly by the global warming movement. Because at the end of the day, living green and sustainably just makes sense.

Critter38's avatar

Luckily science does not work by popular opinion, surveys, the views of politicians, etc..and furthermore it doesn’t get swayed by public appearances by self-proclaimed experts.

It all comes down to what can and cannot be supported in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. There you can’t get away with just sounding convincing, you have to put down your hard evidence to be subjected to challenge from the scientific community.

That said. The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence is that the Earth is warming, and that the majority of this warming is due to the excess greenhouse gas emissions released over the last century. Yes the earth goes through natural climatic cycles, but those cyclical processes cannot account for warming over the last century.

The most unfortunate state of affairs is that a significant part of the public confuses this issue as something which is at its heart ideological (eg. greenies, lefties, anti-capitalists etc). It is not. It is a scientific issue first and foremost.

I suggest you read the IPCC summary report. It is already somewhat outdated but it is an excellent start. Note that the estimates for sea level rise and glacial melt were too conservative based on current information.

Les's avatar

@Critter38 : The IPCC website is an excellent resource for anyone looking to get more information on climate change. Good link.

cwilbur's avatar

There is an overwhelming quantity of evidence that climate change is happening. There is still scientific debate as to whether this is something caused by humans or whether this is part of a natural trend of some sort, but there’s a significant amount of evidence that suggests that human behavior has contributed a great deal to it. And no matter what the cause is, the climate change is going to affect a lot of people, so we have to do something about it—whether that’s changing our behavior to slow it down, or planning to relocate people in coastal cities further inland and move agricultural production further north.

Now, there are a lot of people who have a lot to lose if people change our energy consumption habits, and it’s a useful debate strategy for these people to confuse the issue altogether—because if they can discredit climate change in the first place, they don’t need to defend their behavior. One of the tactics they use quite often is confusing “global warming” with “climate change”: they say things like “how can there be global warming, when last year’s winter was one of the coldest on record?” Well, duh, the local temperature went down by a few degrees, but it was more than made up for the temperature in the Arctic going up by a few degrees.

And then there are a lot of people who have the “I got mine, what do I care about yours?” attitude.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

I’ve studied the volstok ice caps. What we’re seeing is a combination of the earths natural heating phase, and a mass emission of man-made gasses. So in a sense, both arguments are right.

But don’t worry, we’re going to run out of fossil-fuels long before we melt the planet.

Critter38's avatar

There is more than enough fossil fuel (don’t forget coal, oil sands, methane hydrates etc….let alone concrete and meat production and forest loss) to take global temperatures high enough to cause massive disuption to societies and ecosystems. This is even without passing natural tipping points in ocean absorption of CO2 (via acidity disruption of plankton sinks and current changes), increasing forest loss due to increased fire and pest outbreaks, degassing of soil and carbon methane stocks in boreal permafrost, etc.

So unfortunately we can’t rely on excessive consumption to solve this problem. If we could I’m sure an easy solution would be readily at hand.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

@Critter38 Generous predictions say we have MAYBE 100 years of oil and coal left. Those are the large contributions thanks to man. Methane, concrete, deforestation…. drops in the bucket.

Critter38's avatar

Currently natural sinks absorb approximately half of all global emissions. Current evidence is that to miss overshooting the 2 degree celcius increase mark (EU and increasingly global target), we have to level off emissions sometime in the next 8 or so years. To stabilise the climate we are looking at 80% cuts in first world emissions and 50% in global emissions by 2050.

But what you’re saying is that we needn’t bother worrying. We can accomplish this while burning all available known and unknown reserves of oil and coal (coal alone amounts to over 900 billion tonnes)...while ignoring the 20% of co2 emissions caused by deforestation/degradation, approximately 20% of climate change caused by methane emissions alone and all those other “minor” drops in the bucket…. because there isn’t enough of this stuff to cause a problem. It will all run out before then.

Would you mind explaining how this all works. I seem to be missing something.

kevbo's avatar

The last thing that far left extremists want is to scam everyone to make billions of dollars. I suspect what you mean by that label is corporate democrats.

I think it’s probably both (real and a scam). I don’t doubt that there’s a scientifically verifiable climate change happening. It’s not a stretch to believe that man made pollution is contributing to that change most obviously on a trees-water-and-dirt environmental level.

However, I also believe that we’re going to be taken for a ride. The foundation for carbon taxes were laid in the first bailout bill (just as we’re seeing glimmers of a reduction in fossil fuel dependence). I think the military (or whomever) has technology that allows them to weaponize the weather (google it if you don’t believe me), so just about anything goes, I think in terms of creating weather extremes (or Indonesian tsunamis, e.g.) Plus, we’ve got jetliners spraying god knows what all over the globe (i.e. chemtrails), so either that’s really to mitigate global warming or for something else.

And let’s not forget the probability that greener technology has been suppressed by the same capitalist interests who are now asking us to pay for our environmental transgressions.

I’m reading this book currently, and in it there’s a story that isn’t altogether uncommon in human history but really struck me w/r/t the current chant of global climate change. When one particular Mexican dynasty ascended to power in the 1400s, the ruler transformed his nation state into a “keeper of the cosmic order” and instituted a dogma that the sun (which makes life possible) had to battle with the moon and the stars every night in order to return the next day. The sun could not hold out forever and would eventually lose this battle, but in the meantime that apocalypse could be postponed if the sun was fortified with chalchihuatl, or life energy. Society, then was charged with providing a steady supply of that life energy, which could only be produced through human sacrifice. The humans to be sacrificed were generally criminals, slaves or more and more often prisoners of war. So, what grew into their imperialist quest on earth was legitimized by their sacred mission to preserve the sun’s power.

I think it’s obvious to see the manipulation in that story (and so many others like it), and it makes me wonder if we’re being set up for something similar in this lifetime.

bea2345's avatar

Of course we are being manipulated, @kevbo. But we must not let conspiracy theory overcome our common sense. The science is very persuasive.

kevbo's avatar

The more I read, the more I learn how politics trumps science.

LostInParadise's avatar

Let’s look at the basic facts. 16 of the last 17 years have seen record high average temperatures. Ice is melting in the Arctic at record rates. Russia will soon have its long sought passage to the Atlantic and polar bears may end up going extinct in the wild. We are having extreme weather everywhere – record droughts leading to record wildfires in the American west and record breaking monsoons in southeast Asia. Tornadoes are showing up in the most unexpected places.You don’t need scientific papers to learn this. Just look at the news headlines (or do you think journalists are part of the global warming conspiracy?). Something odd is happening. Meteorologists have been predicting these kinds of things for years. Either they are awfully lucky guessers or their concern about carbon emissions has merit.

Note that scientists are by nature very cautious. They won’t come flat out and say this is all due to increased carbon emissions. All they say is that what we have been seeing is made much more likely by it. They also say that as we go forward, the chances for more of the same will keep rising.

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