Difference between revisions of "Global warming"

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==News Articles==
==News Articles==
* '''2006-04-02''' [http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2006/04/cooler_heads_needed_on_warming.html Cooler Heads Needed on Warming] By George Will
* '''2006-04-02''' [http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2006/04/cooler_heads_needed_on_warming.html Cooler Heads Needed on Warming] By George Will
* '''2006-03-17''' [http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa003&articleID=000051A6-DE14-1419-9E1483414B7F0000 Statistical Analysis Bolsters Theory Linking Warmer Oceans to Stronger Hurricanes] ([http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/03/18/1819256 slashdot])
* '''2006-03-02''' [http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2006/mar/HQ_06085_arctic_ice.html NASA Mission Detects Significant Antarctic Ice Mass Loss]
* '''2006-03-02''' [http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2006/mar/HQ_06085_arctic_ice.html NASA Mission Detects Significant Antarctic Ice Mass Loss]
* '''2006-02-16''' [http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2006/feb/HQ_06066_Greenland_ice_melting.html Greenland Ice-Loss Doubles in Past Decade, Raising Sea Level Faster]
* '''2006-02-16''' [http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2006/feb/HQ_06066_Greenland_ice_melting.html Greenland Ice-Loss Doubles in Past Decade, Raising Sea Level Faster]

Revision as of 18:12, 30 April 2006

Global Warming refers to the idea that the Earth's average temperature could significantly increase to the point where it will have noticeable effects on how people live.


The following points of debate have pretty much been resolved (see #News for details regarding the answers):

  • whether or not the Earth is currently on a general warmining trend – yes
  • whether or not this will have significant effects on anyone – yes
  • whether or not those effects will be bad – in the short term, yes; beyond that depends on a lot of unknown factors

There continues to be debate on the following points:

  • whether or not this trend, if it is real, will continue
  • whether or not the warming is being caused by humanity (strong circumstantial evidence that it is)
    • Could be caused by random climatic drift
    • Could be caused by changes in any of countless variables, e.g. the sun's energy output
  • whether it is in humanity's best interest to attempt countermeasures (as opposed to "letting nature take its course")
  • what sorts of countermeasures should be taken (e.g. should we try to counteract the warming trend itself, or just be prepared to deal with the changing climate and rising sea levels as they happen?)

There appears to be some considerable political pressure to deny that there is a dangerous warming trend.

Difficulty of Resolution

Part of the problem is that the issue has become heavily politicized, largely because direct countermeasures (attempts to counteract the warming trend) tend to be unpopular amongst those who would need to implement them, and those who would need to implement them are generally large businesses with significant amounts of political clout and ability to drive the discussion in directions favorable to them.

Another part of the problem is that determining whether or not the phenomenon is of genuine concern requires the integration of large amounts of data – over long timespans and a large number of different geographical locations – in order to notice subtle real effects without raising false alarms due to temporary or local effects.

Contrary Opinions

Although the majority of scientists agree that global warming is occurring and is caused by humanity, a few disagree; each of these few generally express one of the following positions:

  • The Earth is not warming: surface records seem to show a warming trend, but satellite and weather balloon records do not.
  • The Earth is warming but the cause is unknown
  • The Earth is warming but mostly due to natural processes
  • Global warming is occurring but not as much as feared

(Reference: wikipedia:List of scientists opposing global warming consensus)

Another counterargument which seems to come up frequently is the idea that the Earth is self-correcting (generally referred to as Gaia theory) and any warming trend will surely be followed by an eventual cooling trend. Although this may be true in general, there is also strong evidence that Earth has been significantly warmer or colder than at present for quite long stretches of time — apparently even freezing over completely on at least one occasion (Snowball Earth), remaining that way for many millions of years and only unfreezing when the accumulation of geothermally-released carbon dioxide in the atmosphere became sufficient to create a counteracting greenhouse effect.

At least one group has argued that the Earth is actually cooling:


Significant Points

  • Al Gore at the TED 2006 conference has some good overviews on the Global Warming situation: "There's no real disagreement about global warming – a survery of peer reviewed papers showed 928 supporting a theory of global warming and 0 opposing it. But there's a powerful lobby that is producing doubt, and suceeding – a survey ... reveals that 53% of popular press articles have some doubt about global warming."
  • 2005-05-04 ExxonMobil Spends Millions Funding Global Warming Skeptics: doesn't automatically invalidate global warming skepticism, but any argument which starts with "many authorities seem to agree that it's not happening" should be aware that the balance may have been tilted a bit.

Possible Solutions

  • "stabilization wedges": No single solution will be efficient enough fast enough, but in combination they may be enough

News Articles