Social Question

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Why is it that opponents of the “global warming” theory don’t think that looking for alternative energy sources, reducing pollution and conserving energy are good ideas?

Asked by The_Compassionate_Heretic (14634points) October 13th, 2009

Pollution and energy conservation are not merely political issues.

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62 Answers

MrItty's avatar

Oversimplifying – because those things cost money, without a pressing need.

DarkScribe's avatar

Many people who don’t support global warming are quite keen to find alternate energy sources, reduce pollution etc. Why would you assume that one viewpoint automatically encompasses the others?

SpatzieLover's avatar

@DarkScribe In the US, that’s just a hand in hand way of our political life.

patg7590's avatar

I would assume because they have a vested interest in being allowed to rape the planet’s resources.

Some people benefit from the status quo.

dpworkin's avatar

Some believe that Global Warming is a hoax to redistribute wealth from the Coal and Natural Gas industry to other “fake” “liberal” industries.

wilma's avatar

Exactly what I was going to say.
I have been a conservationist all of my life. In every way you might imagine.
Global warming is an entirely different subject.
I would agree with @The_Compassionate_Heretic in that “Pollution and energy conservation are not merely political issues”

RedPowerLady's avatar

How about the camp that believe the world i going to end soon and this is just a way of hastening the world’s end which is what is wanted by their religion?

I am not anti-religion at all but there are a lot of people who believe this and it just blows me out of the water.

I would think the other half of those that oppose it have some investment in doing so. Unfortunately we are a world run by greed and in many cases this includes consumerism and capitalism.

I also think there are those who don’t want to put out the initial energy or the initial funds to support alternative energy sources. We know, for example, that there is a great potential for wind energy in many areas in the US. However windmills are horribly expensive. And I still have yet to see them being built on a scale that matters. We know it’ll help the environment and save money in the long run, we just won’t put out the initial funds.

Ashleyh429's avatar

It’s not that they are bad ideas. It’s just everyone is claiming that will solve all the problems, and it won’t. The Earth’s climate moves in a cycle. We are bound to have another ice age at some point. People saying that cleaner energy will stop it altogether is ridiculous. Also, clean energy is good, butt what happens to the people who have jobs in the coal mines? One of the main sources of income for West Virginia is through the mines. To promote clean energy is also promoting the destruction of their jobs, their entire lifestyle.

efritz's avatar

Well, since they don’t believe in it, they would reasonably want money going towards more pressing issues. This is the only logical explanation I could come up with, I’m not sure if this is actually the case.

Jack_Haas's avatar

Most people don’t know for sure what’s real or not about global warming, but they can clearly see that it is used for political purposes.

Pollution and energy conservation aren’t just political issues but economic as well… When times are tough people aren’t so keen to see their tax dollars thrown into problems that might or might not materialize, potentially in the next 50 to 100 years.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Ashleyh429 They can get jobs working towards alternative energy. Alternative energy can replace existing ‘bad energy’ jobs. If that is what we fight for.

Also, I know I shouldn’t go there, but I don’t think anyone is talking about stopping natural earth cycles. We are talking about stopping, or at least slowing down, unnatural ones. Ones that are caused by our poor environmental education and are created by our poor choices.

Ashleyh429's avatar

I mean, cleaner energy is good, but what was proposed by Obama as an alternative was NOT good… At one point he was suggesting using trees instead of coal. That, I do NOT like at all. Trees can come back, but they take a long time to grow, and lots of other industries already use them for their products. The last thing we need is the US running off of trees…

RedPowerLady's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic I think you are getting your answer by hearing from people who don’t believe in it…

@Ashleyh429 I’m not all for clearcutting trees either.

@Jack_Haas I agree there needs to be a lot more education on the topic so people can separate the politics from the reality. The reality is, of course, that we need to conserve our environment (global warming aside). And that is not something that will “materialize or not”. It needs to happen now or we will be suffering soon. We are already seeing the effects of it today.

@efritz I’m not sure what is more pressing than environmental survival at this point. I bet we could come up with a few things but I would be willing to argue that environmental survival is among the pressing issues of our time. Of course we won’t have any pressing issues if we continue to let the Earth dissolve around us.

Ashleyh429's avatar

Don’t get me wrong. I hate pollution, but some of the steps taken against it aren’t reasonable. They are holding back companies from functioning. Ultimately, I think the government needs to stay out. I think there could be benefits given to companies that do follow certain guidelines, but it should not be set down in stone. After all, pretty much anything the federal government ends up doing usually screws up in the end. It’s too big and too extreme with a bunch of people up in Washington writing down things that they don’t even understand. “Oh that sounds good, let’s do it.” attitudes, just don’t cut it. Also, last time we weren’t alone in our pollution issues. We can do all we like to stop pollution, but if China, Japan, Germany, and India don’t do anything about theirs, then it really hardly even matters!

MrItty's avatar

@RedPowerLady Do you honestly believe 50 year old folks who’ve worked in coal mines their whole lives can just “get a job in alternative energy”? You seriously think that’s a possibility? You must either believe that:
* Coal miners are trained in the jobs that alternative energy would provide, just for fun
* Alternative energy jobs require no specialized knowledge or skills.

How, please, did you reach those conclusions?

Ashleyh429's avatar

@MrItty Totally agree with you!

benjaminlevi's avatar

Because its better to increase the acidity of the oceans with our carbon dioxide emissions.

Because it makes more sense to give our money to places like Iran, Russia and Venezuela than to try to make our own energy.

Because its better than our cars and appliances use that energy as inefficiently as possible.

Because alternative energy sources obviously would not create any jobs at all.

Because there is no reason to protect biodiversity.

Because there is an infinite amount of oil

oratio's avatar

@Ashleyh429 I think the government needs to stay out.

I am not sure that is possible. There are no companies that are interested in saving the environment. The market can’t be responsible for taking ethical decisions. Ethics and responsibility are not the markets biggest qualities.

Ashleyh429's avatar

My dad works for GP and for every tree they cut down, they plant another one. They need to preserve what we have, otherwise their business would cease to exist… If the benefits are good enough, or if the requirements are reasonable, then they will…

Ashleyh429's avatar

There is one circumstance with an environmental issue, that I find absolutely ridiculous… When taking showers, if they are to do so at work, they cannot let the water drain out. They have to trap it, let it evaporate, then burn the substance that is remaining which is… guess what… WOOD CHIPS! SHAVINGS! Completely harmless… Tell me that’s reasonable…

benjaminlevi's avatar

@MrItty My uncle who is over 50, who has worked as a carpenter his whole life, just went and got certified to get a job doing energy audits.

Do you believe people over 50 are incapable of learning anything new?

Ashleyh429's avatar

It’s not that they are not capable of learning anything new, but it can be hard for someone at that age to change their lifestyles. Also, how many jobs do you think will be going to the hills of West Virginia? There are still areas of West Virginia that don’t even have electricity or indoor plumbing…

dpworkin's avatar

Well I am 60, and a Senior in college, and I am learning new things daily.

Ashleyh429's avatar

Yes, but would it be difficult to possibly have to pick up and move your family due to your job that you have had for years is gone? Companies go out of business all the time, but would you intentionally cause so many to lose their jobs?

gussnarp's avatar

This whole loss of jobs issue is a bit of a red herring. Coal jobs will end, someday. Coal is not going away today, or tomorrow, or in the next decade, most likely. The growth of coal may end, but even that is unlikely right now. Coal will have a very long tail. Yes, the next generation will have to find new jobs, perhaps new places to live, but that is a normal and natural cycle. More importantly, there will be lots of time to adjust, generations perhaps. And remember, coal miners have a love/hate relationship with their jobs. Do you really think they like toiling in the mines and risking their lives? Do you think they would rather their kids end up doing the same thing?
I know a former coal miner who moved into a new job at a ripe age, it can be done

Jack_Haas's avatar

@RedPowerLady Sure, but you have to sort the propaganda from the science before you can start educating people, otherwise it’s just brainwashing.

@Oratio Wrong. Global companies like Apple and Nike are bailing out of the US chamber of commerce over its reticence toward environmental regulations.

On the one hand, corporations are not evil. On the other hand, the governments of China, Russia and Europe don’t have the US’s best interest in mind either. Better leave the marker sort it out than leaving the keys to the US economy to the UN.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@MrItty There are always entry-level jobs. Perhaps I have more faith in our elders that their skills are in-fact transferable. Even if they are just basic skills or that they are intelligent enough to be trained for the new jobs.

@benjaminlevi & @pdworkin Thank you for the prime examples!

@Jack_Haas I agree completely. My husband is in the environmental field. I can say the the scientific community has been doing a great job separating the two. Well some of it just support propaganda but there is a large majority who are quite clear about the facts.

MrItty's avatar

@RedPowerLady right, because people nearing retirement will have no problem supporting themselves and their families with “entry level jobs” and the salaries that go with them.

Ashleyh429's avatar

@MrItty I think we’re on the same page… I’m likin’ every single one of you’re responses!

oratio's avatar

@Jack_Haas No, companies are not evil. They are there to produce and make money. But if the companies aren’t that interested in keeping the jobs in the US for americans, why do you think they would make an economical effort to reduce pollution and environmental burden? What in the wakes of this economic crisis makes you think the market has a conscience?

Jack_Haas's avatar

@RedPowerLady The problem is it trickles down from the top. The current administration has highly controversial figures in environmental posts. One example is the former green jobs czar, Van Jones, who turned out the be a radical marxist. As long as the political atmosphere remains poisonous, unless the next administration chooses people that have a strong reputation for fairness and impartiality, the political games will always discredit the work of those on the ground.

efritz's avatar

@RedPowerLady – I completely agree with you. I’m just pointing out that if you don’t believe in a certain cause, why would you want to put money toward it? Which perhaps is how some (stupid) politicians feel.

Jack_Haas's avatar

@oratio The market is led by human beings who have a conscience. People get the impression it’s not the case because the Ceos who make headlines tend to be the ones who screw up spectacularly. They’re not the norm. Actually, I think the guy who got the Nobel of economics was rewarded for his demonstration that corporations are not just soulless profit centers.

Second, it’s not so much a matter of conscience as one of image. Promoting environmental protection isn’t just profitable to companies, it helps them burnish their image as… a lot more than just soulless profit centers. I don’t see other reasons why Nike and Apple seem so concerned about environmental regulation.

galileogirl's avatar

Over the last few years there has been a definite change in most of the conservative opposition to alternative energy. (The old fossils have accepted the problems of fossil fuels.) I think the changes in the ice caps and climatalogical changes have put the fear of God in them. But the major energy companies have seen the possibility of big profits for themselves and that is beginning to turn them around.

Last year in California we had what looked like a very progressive proposition that would require a massive switch to green power in the next 2 decades. There was a well-funded campaign supporting it. The hitch was small green corps would be banned almost completely leaving the big power cos to have a near monopoly.

Ashleyh429's avatar

Ummm… are you sure you have your facts right?

1. There is no proof that the current warming is caused by the rise of greenhouse gases from human activity. Ice core records from the past 650,000 years show that temperature increases have preceded—not resulted from—increases in CO2 by hundreds of years, suggesting that the warming of the oceans is an important source of the rise in atmospheric CO2. As the dominant greenhouse gas, water vapour is far, far more important than CO2. Dire predictions of future warming are based almost entirely on computer climate models, yet these models do not accurately understand the role or water vapor—and, in any case, water vapor is not within our control. Plus, computer models cannot account for the observed cooling of much of the past century (1940–75), nor for the observed patterns of warming—what we call the “fingerprints.” For example, the Antarctic is cooling while models predict warming. And where the models call for the middle atmosphere to warm faster than the surface, the observations show the exact opposite.

The best evidence supporting natural causes of temperature fluctuations are the changes in cloudiness, which correspond strongly with regular variations in solar activity. The current warming is likely part of a natural cycle of climate warming and cooling that’s been traced back almost a million years. It accounts for the Medieval Warm Period around 1100 A.D., when the Vikings settled Greenland and grew crops, and the Little Ice Age, from about 1400 to 1850 A.D., which brought severe winters and cold summers to Europe, with failed harvests, starvation, disease, and general misery. Attempts have been made to claim that the current warming is “unusual” using spurious analysis of tree rings and other proxy data. Advocates have tried to deny the existence of these historic climate swings and claim that the current warming is “unusual” by using spurious analysis of tree rings and other proxy data, resulting in the famous “hockey–stick” temperature graph. The hockey-stick graph has now been thoroughly discredited.

2. If the cause of warming is mostly natural, then there is little we can do about it. We cannot control the inconstant sun, the likely origin of most climate variability. None of the schemes for greenhouse gas reduction currently bandied about will do any good; they are all irrelevant, useless, and wildly expensive:

• Control of CO2 emissions, whether by rationing or elaborate cap–and–trade schemes

• Uneconomic “alternative” energy, such as ethanol and the impractical “hydrogen economy”

• Massive installations of wind turbines and solar collectors

• Proposed projects for the sequestration of CO2 from smokestacks or even from the atmosphere

Ironically, even if CO2 were responsible for the observed warming trend, all these schemes would be ineffective—unless we could persuade every nation, including China, to cut fuel use by 80 percent!

3. Finally, no one can show that a warmer climate would produce negative impacts overall. The much–feared rise in sea levels does not seem to depend on short–term temperature changes, as the rate of sea–level increases has been steady since the last ice age, 10,000 years ago. In fact, many economists argue that the opposite is more likely—that warming produces a net benefit, that it increases incomes and standards of living. Why do we assume that the present climate is the optimum? Surely, the chance of this must be vanishingly small, and the economic history of past climate warmings bear this out.

But the main message of The Great Global Warming Swindle is much broader. Why should we devote our scarce resources to what is essentially a non–problem, and ignore the real problems the world faces: hunger, disease, denial of human rights—not to mention the threats of terrorism and nuclear wars? And are we really prepared to deal with natural disasters; pandemics that can wipe out most of the human race, or even the impact of an asteroid, such as the one that wiped out the dinosaurs? Yet politicians and the elites throughout much of the world prefer to squander our limited resources to fashionable issues, rather than concentrate on real problems. Just consider the scary predictions emanating from supposedly responsible world figures: the chief scientist of Great Britain tells us that unless we insulate our houses and use more efficient light bulbs, the Antarctic will be the only habitable continent by 2100, with a few surviving breeding couples propagating the human race. Seriously!

I imagine that in the not–too–distant future all the hype will have died down, particularly if the climate should decide to cool—as it did during much of the past century; we should take note here that it has not warmed since 1998. Future generations will look back on the current madness and wonder what it was all about. They will have movies like An Inconvenient Truth and documentaries like The Great Global Warming Swindle to remind them.

Jack_Haas's avatar

@Ashleyh429 That’s right! Bjorn Lomborg has made valid points about the need to study potentially positive effects from global warming. The UN panel has thousands of scientists working round the clock but they can’t assign even a dozen to research that aspect.

Ashleyh429's avatar

here’s another back up

MYTH 1: Global temperatures are rising at a rapid, unprecedented rate.

FACT: Accurate satellite, balloon and mountain top observations made over the last three decades have not shown any significant change in the long term rate of increase in global temperatures. Average ground station readings do show a mild warming of 0.6 to 0.8Cover the last 100 years, which is well within the natural variations recorded in the last millennium. The ground station network suffers from an uneven distribution across the globe; the stations are preferentially located in growing urban and industrial areas (“heat islands”), which show substantially higher readings than adjacent rural areas (“land use effects”).

There has been no catastrophic warming recorded.

MYTH 2: The “hockey stick” graph proves that the earth has experienced a steady, very gradual temperature increase for 1000 years, then recently began a sudden increase.

FACT: Significant changes in climate have continually occurred throughout geologic time. For instance, the Medieval Warm Period, from around 1000 to1200 AD (when the Vikings farmed on Greenland) was followed by a period known as the Little Ice Age. Since the end of the 17th Century the “average global temperature” has been rising at the low steady rate mentioned above; although from 1940 – 1970 temperatures actually dropped, leading to a Global Cooling scare.

The “hockey stick”, a poster boy of both the UN’s IPCC and Canada’s Environment Department, ignores historical recorded climatic swings, and has now also been proven to be flawed and statistically unreliable as well. It is a computer construct and a faulty one at that.

MYTH 3: Human produced carbon dioxide has increased over the last 100 years, adding to the Greenhouse effect, thus warming the earth.

FACT: Carbon dioxide levels have indeed changed for various reasons, human and otherwise, just as they have throughout geologic time. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the CO2 content of the atmosphere has increased. The RATE of growth during this period has also increased from about 0.2% per year to the present rate of about 0.4% per year,which growth rate has now been constant for the past 25 years. However, there is no proof that CO2 is the main driver of global warming. As measured in ice cores dated over many thousands of years, CO2 levels move up and down AFTER the temperature has done so, and thus are the RESULT OF, NOT THE CAUSE of warming. Geological field work in recent sediments confirms this causal relationship. There is solid evidence that, as temperatures move up and down naturally and cyclically through solar radiation, orbital and galactic influences, the warming surface layers of the earth’s oceans expel more CO2 as a result.

MYTH 4: CO2 is the most common greenhouse gas.

FACT: Greenhouse gases form about 3 % of the atmosphere by volume. They consist of varying amounts, (about 97%) of water vapour and clouds, with the remainder being gases like CO2, CH4, Ozone and N2O, of which carbon dioxide is the largest amount. Hence, CO2 constitutes about 0.037% of the atmosphere. While the minor gases are more effective as “greenhouse agents” than water vapour and clouds, the latter are overwhelming the effect by their sheer volume and – in the end – are thought to be responsible for 60% of the “Greenhouse effect”.
Those attributing climate change to CO2 rarely mention this important fact.

MYTH 5: Computer models verify that CO2 increases will cause significant global warming.

FACT: Computer models can be made to “verify” anything by changing some of the 5 million input parameters or any of a multitude of negative and positive feedbacks in the program used.. They do not “prove” anything. Also, computer models predicting global warming are incapable of properly including the effects of the sun, cosmic rays and the clouds. The sun is a major cause of temperature variation on the earth surface as its received radiation changes all the time, This happens largely in cyclical fashion. The number and the lengths in time of sunspots can be correlated very closely with average temperatures on earth, e.g. the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period. Varying intensity of solar heat radiation affects the surface temperature of the oceans and the currents. Warmer ocean water expels gases, some of which are CO2. Solar radiation interferes with the cosmic ray flux, thus influencing the amount ionized nuclei which control cloud cover.

MYTH 6: The UN proved that man–made CO2 causes global warming.
FACT: In a 1996 report by the UN on global warming, two statements were deleted from the final draft. Here they are:
1) “None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed climate changes to increases in greenhouse gases.”
2) “No study to date has positively attributed all or part of the climate change to man–made causes”

To the present day there is still no scientific proof that man-made CO2 causes significant global warming.

MYTH 7: CO2 is a pollutant.

FACT: This is absolutely not true. Nitrogen forms 80% of our atmosphere. We could not live in 100% nitrogen either. Carbon dioxide is no more a pollutant than nitrogen is. CO2 is essential to life on earth. It is necessary for plant growth since increased CO2 intake as a result of increased atmospheric concentration causes many trees and other plants to grow more vigorously. Unfortunately, the Canadian Government has included CO2 with a number of truly toxic and noxious substances listed by the Environmental Protection Act, only as their means to politically control it.

MYTH 8: Global warming will cause more storms and other weather extremes.

FACT: There is no scientific or statistical evidence whatsoever that supports such claims on a global scale. Regional variations may occur. Growing insurance and infrastructure repair costs, particularly in coastal areas, are sometimes claimed to be the result of increasing frequency and severity of storms, whereas in reality they are a function of increasing population density, escalating development value, and ever more media reporting.

MYTH 9: Receding glaciers and the calving of ice shelves are proof of global warming.

FACT: Glaciers have been receding and growing cyclically for hundreds of years. Recent glacier melting is a consequence of coming out of the very cool period of the Little Ice Age. Ice shelves have been breaking off for centuries. Scientists know of at least 33 periods of glaciers growing and then retreating. It’s normal. Besides, glacier’s health is dependent as much on precipitation as on temperature.

MYTH 10: The earth’s poles are warming; polar ice caps are breaking up and melting and the sea level rising.

FACT: The earth is variable. The western Arctic may be getting somewhat warmer, due to unrelated cyclic events in the Pacific Ocean, but the Eastern Arctic and Greenland are getting colder. The small Palmer Peninsula of Antarctica is getting warmer, while the main Antarctic continent is actually cooling. Ice thicknesses are increasing both on Greenland and in Antarctica.

Sea level monitoring in the Pacific (Tuvalu) and Indian Oceans (Maldives) has shown no sign of any sea level rise

So what have you been listening to? Myths I would presume?

galileogirl's avatar

@Ashleyh429 Not my facts, just what is scaring the bejesus out of many former anti-greenies. Baby polar bears on tiny ice floes are more effective than scientific studies.

Ashleyh429's avatar

=/ well, it may be more effective, but that’s called propaganda, in case you haven’t heard of it… And guess what??? You’re not supposed to listen to it!

RedPowerLady's avatar

@MrItty Like I said there is the possibility of switching the jobs over, people keeping similar salaries. It’s been talked about as a serious possibility. And yes TONS of people in the U.S. support their families on entry-level salaries. It isn’t great for people who have worked their entire lives but it is possible. If you are talking about supporting future generations through environmental survival vs. making some people uncomfortable with a job change I think the choice is pretty clear. BTW my grandfather worked in a mill his entire life and was a very respectable man. I am not unsympathetic to the plight of laborers. But when it comes to the death of our planet vs. the comfort of individuals (ie not comfortable switching jobs) then I vote for our planet. I also vote for making the transition easier but if you want to have it black and white then there you have it.

@Jack_Haas You make a really good point. I agree with you. At the same time I think it is possible to educate people to separate the politics from the facts. Or even if they can’t do that we could at least provide a basic level of education so that people aren’t questioning if global warming even exists or rather if saving the environment is worthwhile. We need to work towards that base level in the least. I’m not saying it is easy but it needs to be done. There have always been politicians mucking things up for worthy causes but we still manage to create change. I suppose my question to you is how to you suggest we deal with this issue? We can’t ignore it. We can’t expect politicians to change in the next few years or how politics runs.

@efritz I suppose to me it is as simple as it’s not a cause to “believe in” or not. It’s like world hunger or homelessness. It’s not disputable. It needs to be “fixed”. But I do see what you are saying. Greed and causes that support it sure do get the front lines. Perhaps it is our responsibility as public citizens to say enough is enough and stop supporting these political agendas, similar to what @Jack_Haas is saying.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Ashleyh429 There are so many facts in favor of the global warming cause that others can paste into their messages as well. You have to look at the source for one. Another is like what @galileogirl says, you have to look at the reality of the situation. But most importantly. Whether you believe in global warming or not there are a TON of other reasons to support alternative energy. So it is a mute point to argue how dangerous it is or not.

Here are some fast facts that say global warming is happening, humans are causing it, and it is dangerous.

The two sources here are the National Geographic and the Environmental Defense Fund. Perhaps the latter is not unbiased but it does provide some relevant information.

Here’s another from a University. You could say they are relatively unbiased.

filmfann's avatar

I personally am not sure global warming is real. We are talking about a planet, and trying to judge how it is on a very, very short timetable. We have no idea if this is normal for the planet, which has periodic ice ages, etc.

That said, I believe in the need to reduce pollution, and find alternate power sources. Why not keep it clean?

Supacase's avatar

I agree with @DarkScribe that the two are not necessarily related. I don’t buy into global warming, but I have known since grade school that fossil fuels are non-renewable (trees don’t grow as fast as we cut them, etc.) and realistic alternatives need to be developed.

Bobbystaton's avatar

Hmmm, so here we go. I truly believe the whole global warming agenda is man made. Now, what would lead someone to believe I’m against alternative fuels and polution reduction?

MrItty's avatar

@RedPowerLady The whole premise of the question is asking for the reasoning of people who DON’T believe in global warming. Therefore, the “death of the planet” is not an issue. Remove that from your reasoning, and now how does all the jobs lost stack up?

gussnarp's avatar

I told myself to stay away from this thread, but I had to go and read it. It seems like it’s time for a little science lesson. What is a theory? First and foremost it is not just an idea somebody had that is unverified. That’s a hypothesis. At the very least a theory is a hypothesis that has been repeatedly tested and proved sound. But that’s really a bit shallow. A theory is a conceptual framework that links a number of hypotheses that have been repeatedly tested and found valid. When new hypotheses are tested and found valid, the theory is refined to ensure that it still explains the observable phenomena. Climate change theory fits this second definition. What that means is that it is exceedingly complex and any given point of data does not invalidate the theory, it may be that the data seem counter-intuitive, but actually fit quite well with the theory, or it may mean that the theory needs to be refined, but the theory cannot be abandoned until a new theory is proposed that after careful testing better fits all the known associated phenomena. I’m not going to address all of @Ashleyh429’s assertions, nor will I assess their veracity. Global climate change critics use true statements in misleading ways as well as using outright fabrications, and I’m not going to sift through a pile of statements and research which are just deceptive and which are outright lies. Neither is there time here (nor do I have the knowledge) to fully explain every detail of global climate change theory. What I will do is explain the core of the theory, so that we can look at just the first of @Ashleyh429’s arguments in context as an example of why this list is inadequate to disprove the entire theory. The first thing we must understand to understand climate change theory is the law of conservation of matter. The earth is basically a closed system for matter: nothing comes in, nothing goes out. This leads to elemental cycles. You are at least familiar with the water cycle, water, while not a true element, is so tightly bonded that it for all intents and purposes it acts like an element. Water is stored in lakes, ponds, rivers, oceans, glaciers, and underground. Through evaporation and transpiration it becomes atmospheric water, then through precipitation it returns to storage as liquid water. Other elements have similar cycles, there’s a nitrogen cycle, a phosphorous cycle, and key to the discussion at hand, a carbon cycle. Carbon, unlike water, is harder to get out of its atmospheric form. Most of this is done by plants through photosynthesis. Then it returns to the air through respiration and through combustion. Like the water cycle, the carbon cycle generally leads to a stable amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Then over millions of years, lots of dead plants and animals have ended up as permanent underground carbon sinks (coal, oil, natural gas) and reduced the amount of atmospheric carbon. Enter modern man. First we started burning trees for energy, increasing the amount of atmospheric carbon, but not by much. Then, roughly 200 years ago we started figuring out that we could dig up this stored carbon and burn it for energy more efficiently than burning trees. It also meant we were releasing huge amounts of stored carbon as atmospheric carbon. This release of carbon is unprecedented, nothing like it has ever happened before in the history of the earth. Associated with it has been an unprecedented increase in global temperatures (regardless of what may be measured in one place or another, overall global temperature is rising). Like pretty much everything else in science, we cannot absolutely prove causation, but we can be pretty confident about it. It’s not about the amount of total carbon in the atmosphere, or what proportion of greenhouse gases are carbon based, it’s about where the increase in greenhouse gases is coming from. Stunning that some economists don’t get this, given their use of the concepts of marginal costs. Now, how does this fit with @Ashleyh429’s first argument about warming preceding carbon increases in the past? Well, as I said, I will not address the veracity of this statement, but it actually makes perfect sense and is cause for greater concern about global warming. In the past there was no mass release of carbon to the atmosphere to produce warming, warming can occur for other reasons of course. Then what happens is a feedback loop, we know that warming temperatures and melting ice result in carbon being released from storage in arctic thaw lakes, oceans, and from ice caps. So, warmer temperature leads to more carbon leads to warmer temperature until something else happens to break the cycle. Given our unprecedented release of carbon and the associated rise in global temperatures, we can expect to have begun just such a feedback loop. So, what this points out is that if you want to evaluate climate change theory you either have to fully understand it and be able to evaluate each piece of information against all the other information and how it fits with the theory, or you have to rely on some authority. I for one prefer to believe the experts in the field who actually understand the theory, over a handful of cranks, people who are not experts and have at best a rudimentary grasp of the theory, and people funded by the fossil fuel industry. But hey, some people believe the earth was created in 6 days 3000 years ago and evolution does not exist, so I guess they don’t believe that oil even is stored carbon from dead plants and animals.

Bobbystaton's avatar

Your question sounds like you think those who oppose the global warming hoax are out to kill the planet. I think the global warming agenda is a greed creation.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@MrItty I fail to see your logic. Whether you believe in global warming or not the lack of alternative energy sources can be linked to the destruction of our planet. And like I said several times I also fail to believe it would have to mean a mass job loss, as I have provided reasoning that it does not have to take place in that way.

We cannot simply continue to ignore the needs of nature because of fear of change.

mattbrowne's avatar

Solar panels and wind turbines are part of a communist conspiracy aiming to take over the United States. These things must be nipped in the bud. I applaud Ronald Reagan’s courageous decision to remove the solar panels from the White House previously installed by Jimmy Carter. Global warming is a conspiracy too. Long live our glorious motherland, its freedom and independence!

DarkScribe's avatar

@mattbrowne Solar panels and wind turbines are part of a communist conspiracy aiming to take over the United States.

Wow! Are you planning on a new career as a comedy writer?

mattbrowne's avatar

@DarkScribe – Sometimes humor can really underscore a point. Nah, I’ll stick with science fiction.

benjaminlevi's avatar

@mattbrowne I think some people really seem to believe that.

mattbrowne's avatar

@benjaminlevi – Sad, but true. What’s missing is a Carl Sagan of the 21st century telling us the story of climate change. Right now the fossil fuel industries own the more effective communicators. Maybe Thomas Friedman can do something about it. But I’m not sure how many people read his book ‘Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—and How It Can Renew America’. So far there’s no “Cosmos” effect.

gussnarp's avatar

@mattbrowne A lot of the anti-science crowd are old enough to remember Carl Sagan, they probably didn’t listen to him or believe him either. I think great communicators of science are important, but I don’t know if they are enough, and I’m quite certain we need not just one, but many of them

mattbrowne's avatar

@gussnarp – No, they are not enough indeed. But they do help (a little). A more fundamental problem is the decreasing numbers of students enrolling in math, science and technology. Many see it as uncool or too hard. The reasons? I think it has to do with instant gratification versus delayed gratification and excessive consumption of computer games can indeed change brain chemistry. The reward system demands instant reward. Math and physics are hard at first. The fun comes later. Many don’t want to wait. If more people took an interest in science the whole climate change discussion would be different. More people would question the claims made by the fossil fuel industry’s eloquent communicators.

gussnarp's avatar

@mattbrowne What’s interesting about that is that as our society grows more and more technologically complex and therefore more dependent on science, out young people are simultaneously moving away from science. I think one main reason for this is increasing specialization to keep up with the increasing complexity. For my undergrad degree I took some computer science classes from the College of Engineering. Their curriculum includes English composition, physics, math, one philosophy class basically made for them, and three math/science electives. Everything else is computer science. And they all hate the physics classes. They only care about the end results and have no interest at all in how they got there. You would think computer science/engineering students would have a fundamental interest in and knowledge of science, but they are so focused on their own narrow specialty that they don’t know or care about science at all.

gussnarp's avatar

@mattbrowne The other causes of lack of interest are bad teachers and the feeling that everything in science has been done, all the great discoveries made. It takes a lot more work and education to get to a point where one can actually discover anything these days. At least it seems that way.

mattbrowne's avatar

@gussnarp – I’m reading a book called ‘Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future’ by Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum right now. Although, the focus is on the US, the trends in Europe are quite similar. When I enrolled in computer science in 1983 there were 450 other students in the auditorium. Even though most young people are aware of the importance today many hesitate because they heard that there’s some theory involved like math, physics, logic and computability. They want to get their hands on computers right away. And they want to get rich. Economics and MBAs sound more promising. I work in the IT division of a global company. It’s hard to find computer science graduates. People from universities who apply want to be project managers. Right away. There’s also this notion that the dirty tech stuff which involves bits and bytes is done in India anyway. Why understand technology? I’m not saying that studying other fields like languages is easy (my minor was linguistics), but too many people shy away from everything that requires some deeper understanding of math or physics. And we desperately need more scientists and engineers. How can the Earth accommodate 9 billion people in 2050?

mattbrowne's avatar

@gussnarp – Teachers. Good point. Teachers need to make the connection between math and physics and real life. Many people in Germany are installing photovoltaics systems on their roofs. Because of the feed-in-tariff system this is quite attractive financially. What is the average yield? Well, of course it depends on meteorological data. But what about the efficiency? There are many factors and most important is the angle of the roof and the orientation of the house (e.g. facing south). So when building new houses, what’s optimal for photovoltaics? Hey, you need math to find out. Trigonometry matters. GPS matters. How many people realize that GPS is based on comparing different signals from different sources traveling at the speed of light?

So whenever, I hear somebody saying, math isn’t so important for real life I try to challenge them. Like surprised you don’t win the lottery? I also did this to my kids and sometimes they didn’t like it of course. Couple of years ago on Christmas Eve when we were in church the minister asked, Whose birthday is today? There were around 400 people. No one raised an arm. After the service my daughter said, isn’t this almost impossible, I mean there were more people than days of the year. Maybe someone was too shy? I replied, suppose no one was too shy, is it really almost impossible? How could we find out? When I explained about the formula she frowned, but she was very interested in the result. At home we used a calculator and the result was (364/365)^400 = 33%

So math has something to do with real life after all.

oratio's avatar

Carl Sagan was just such a wonderful, wonderful man,

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, he was.

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