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airowDee's avatar

Is climate change a serious threat?

Asked by airowDee (1791points) October 13th, 2009

Why do some people insist that the scientists have not settled on the serious nature of climate change, while most others are claiming that the science is almost universal that we must do something right now to prevent global warming?

Are David suzuki and Al Gore just blowing out hot air for their own self interests or are they sincerely correct in the current situation about our climate?

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14 Answers

torch81's avatar

The Earth is millions of years old. We’ve been keeping records on the Earth’s temperature for about 100 years. We don’t do a very good job of predicting what the weather will be like next week, much less years or decades from now. To look at the evidence that we have collected and say that the Earth is headed past some “point of no return” would be like watching a human hold their breath for 20 seconds and declaring that they will never breathe again.

I’m sure others will come along after me and tell you that I’m naive or that I’m rejecting the scientific evidence, but I’m just not convinced. Do yourself a favor, read Al Gore’s book and then read Glen Beck’s “Inconvenient Book,” then make up your own mind.

airowDee's avatar

Glen Beck? please god, NO. Anyone but “Obama has a deep seated hatred against white people” Beck.

Ivan's avatar

“We don’t do a very good job of predicting what the weather will be like next week, much less years or decades from now.”


evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@airowDee I remain skeptical. There are just too many inconsistencies for it to be proven beyond a doubt. Is climate change happening? Absolutely. Is it mainly caused by Mankind’s actions? That’s the part I am skeptical about. I don’t trust the people who are making the claims.

Look at corn based ethanol. Biggest boondoggle and ripoff since the ‘doctor’ who claimed he could cure disease by blowing tobacco smoke up your rectum.

Here are some corn based ethanol facts that the politicians behind it aren’t telling you. Ethanol is basically alcohol. Alcohol cannot be transported via pipeline due to the fact that it attracted, moisture, i.e. water. Ethanol fouled with water is ruined as a fuel source. Therefore, ethanol must be transported via semi truck or train. Both of these vehicles burn diesel, which is the highest polluting fuel source, just behind coal. Ethanol has fewer BTUs than straight gasoline gallon for gallon. Corn is a starch, ethanol is created from sugars. Corn has to be cooked from a starch to a sugar, and then from the sugar to the final product. It is not cost efficient to use corn for ethanol. Sugar cane (as they do in Brazil) sure, as the raw material is already ‘ready’ to be cooked down into ethanol. Unfortunately, sugar cane cannot be grown in the main agricultural belt of the Midwest, as it is a crop for tropical, not temperate, regions. Other high sugar crops have more possibility, but the research has only just begun.

The only thing that the corn based ethanol technology did was to raise the price of corn per bushel. Since the majority of corn operations are commercial enterprises, it did little to the family farm, simply because most family owned small farms no longer exist. Remember the 90s, remember Farm Aid? Ever wonder why Willie Nelson isn’t doing those anymore?

The agricultural equipment manufacturers are tooled for corn and soybeans, wheat and rice in limited capabilities. They are not tooled for high sugar commercial crops, and without commercial growers of these alternative crops, the amount of ethanol needed can never be met at a rate that is best for the environment.

I am more in favor of creating diesel fuel from hog waste. A single hog eliminates six gallons of manure/waste on average per day. This would be a boon to the energy companies, as the number of hog farms in North America is phenomenal.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

It’s pretty important if you’re a polar bear for example. Their environmental changes are causing their numbers to dwindle in a big way. It would be naive to think that environmental changes wouldn’t affect all creatives living in it. That’s pretty much everyone.

wilma's avatar

I believe that there are just as many scientists who dispute the Global Warming theory.
@airowDee are you suggesting that Al Gore is a scientist?
No, I am probably reading that wrong, sorry.

Critter38's avatar

Al Gore, David Suzuki, etc. are activitists who are trying to convey the implications of the science to the public, but they themselves are irrelevant to the real issue. And if you limit yourself to the media’s representation of the issues, then you will never be decided because the media represents a vast array of different voices, with different motivations, incentives, and biases.

The issue at the heart of your question is where does the weight of scientific evidence fall, and although the science is complex the answer is relatively simple.

Greenhouse gases keep the Earth’s surface temperature at approximately 33 degrees warmer than in their absence. We have increased the atmospheric composition of greenhouse gases, which thereby increases the average temperature of the planet. The science behind this process has been known for over a century. The Earth is warming, the majority of this warming is caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, the implications are severe enough for global agriculture, sea level, water supplies, species preservation, etc that continued emissions at current level are not an option, there are significant positive natural feedbacks or tipping points which greatly increase the risk of continuing current emissions.

That’s what the best scientific evidence tells us. There is no competing hypothesis that can account for the warming over the past century, and any competing hypothesis is still left with having to account for the excess radiative forcing inevitably associated with an increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

If we take the optimistic route then we have to at least halve current annual emissions before we can even come close to stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere (because natural sinks can absorb approximately half of current emissions, though this ratio appears to be weakening).

The overhwelming weight of scientific evidence supports these conclusions which is why the IPCC review came to these conclusions, the world’s national academy of sciences support these conclusions, the world’s governments support these conclusions.

The issue is no longer whether the world’s governments should do something, but whether they can cooperate sufficiently to minimize the impact of climate change over coming centuries.

DOwnload the IPCC summary reports

The following provides an excellent summary of the common fallacies found on the web and the evidence based responses.

Jack_Haas's avatar

Here’s what a British high court had to say about Al Gore’s movie:

DominicX's avatar

Whether or not global warming is happening the way people say it is, people should constantly be trying to improve the environment. The earth isn’t here for us to treat it like shit.

doggywuv's avatar

We don’t know, but for our own safety we should assume that climate change is a serious threat.

hookecho's avatar

@torch81 how can you expect somone to get both sides of the argument by comparing al gore to glenn beck? A better answer would be read Al Gore’s book then read The Case for Skepticism on Global Warming by Michael Crichton. There are compelling arguments on both sides, and lies and misinformation being spread by both sides.

mattbrowne's avatar

A very serious threat. The science is not completely settled when it come to understand all aspects of this very complex phenomenon.

The most serious threat has neither to do with extreme weather or rising oceans. It’s the changing ecosystems. The change is happening so fast, many species won’t have a chance to adapt. This can disrupt our food chains. Instead of feeding 7 billion people the Earth might only be able to keep feeding 2 billion people. You can image what will happen to the other 5 billion.

We need to apply the precautionary principle. We have to act now:

1) Treat fossil fuels like a precious resource to be used sparingly
2) Shut down nuclear power plants to shift the focus and free capital for renewable energies
3) Invest in renewable energies like crazy
4) Triple energy efficiency, no more cardboard houses
5) Change our lifestyles. We should only buy what we really need

hookecho's avatar


those are nice ideas but not all practical. For example, I agree about conserving fossil fuels – we should all be driving electric cars. However, theres no way we would be able to provide enough energy for everyone to have an electric car without nuclear plants.

mattbrowne's avatar

@hookecho – Fossil fuels are a dead end. Nuclear power plants are a dead end. Mining uranium will become more and more difficult and we still don’t have a clue where to store nuclear waste.

I’m not talking about nice ideas. I’m talking about a realistic paradigm shift. Read this book and you will understand how it could be done:

Hot, Flat, and Crowded – Why We Need A Green Revolution – And How It Can Renew America by Thomas L. Friedman

Friedman is an open-minded conservative journalist, columnist and multi Pulitzer Prize winning author.

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