General Question

kevbo's avatar

Global warming- is the WSJ accurate in saying that "Altering the Earth’s temperature, of course, is hardly anything new."?

Asked by kevbo (25649points) June 15th, 2009

The full paragraph:

Altering the Earth’s temperature, of course, is hardly anything new. Human civilization has been changing the Earth’s environment for millennia, often to our detriment. Dams, deforestation and urbanization can alter water cycles and wind patterns, occasionally triggering droughts or even creating deserts. On a global scale, industrial activity for the past 150 years or so has changed the Earth’s atmosphere, threatening to raise average world temperatures to catastrophic levels, even if we were able to stop releasing carbon into the atmosphere immediately.

To me, this reads as if changes in the earth’s temperature have been human caused for millennia. At the very least, that we’ve been raising global temperatures for 150 years.

Beyond bad writing, I think it’s misleading. What’s your reaction?

Full article here.

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3 Answers

Ivan's avatar

I think it’s a poor choice of words and some bad writing. I don’t think they actually meant that humans have been altering the Earth’s temperature for thousands of years.

Les's avatar

Yeah, that’s poor wording. I get what he’s saying (“Jamais” is a guy, right?), but I think it goes a little too far to say that cavemen cooking their food or the Inca building terraces so they could farm are comparable, even remotely, to the industrialization we have seen in the past 200 years. The examples he gives are all more “recent” things on a global scale.

BTW, I hate the idea of geoengineering. My brother would disagree with me (right, Schenectandy?), but I can’t stand this idea of “Well, we’ve sort of tried to limit our emissions and it didn’t work, so lets cover the glaciers in anti-melt mats and cover the deserts in miles of refelctive foil. That has to be the answer!” It reminds me of the Simpsons when Flanders’ parents take him to counseling “We’ve tried nothing and we’re all out of ideas.”
But I digress..

mattbrowne's avatar

No it’s not accurate. What’s different this time is the speed of change.

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