Global warming

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Overview

Global warming refers to the idea that the Earth's average temperature could significantly increase to the point where it will have noticeable (and probably detrimental) effects on how people live.

Also known as: climate change

Related Articles

  • If humans are at all responsible for global warming (a point currently under debate, as described here), then by definition global warming is a sustainability issue.

Debate

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)

Arguments

Arguments against global warming:

Editorials

Reference

Discussion

  • Chaos Manor Special Report: collection of short & long pieces, some very detailed; does not seem to be parroting anyone's party line

Related Articles

  • James Hansen, "NASA's top climatologist", has claimed in writing and on TV that the Bush Administration has tried to restrict and suppress discussion of global warming

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


Humor

  • 2006-08-24 Grant money: cartoon by D.C. Simpson, I Drew This

News Articles

For twenty years you and the other faithful lapdogs of industry have dutifully parroted the sophistry fed to you by the fossil fuel crowd and by free-market ideologues. As the evidence mounted, you moved on to the next set of bogus arguments... and you blame scientists for being dishonest?
Also, the claim that there is no scientific consensus on global warming is a myth; see The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change