Global warming is the steady increase in the average temperature of the Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. Although painted through the media to be an imminent threat caused by human negligence and air pollution, there is also evidence that points to the contrary possibility that global warming is nothing more than an anomaly in weather patterns. The idea of global warming stems from recently collected data which shows that global average air temperature near the Earth's surface rose 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (1.33 ± 0.32 °F) during the hundred years ending in 2005. This may seem negligible but scientists believe it is enough to make conclusions about global warming and its possibly detrimental effects.
According to The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), "most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations," also known as the greenhouse effect. Causes of the greenhouse effect frequently point to CO2 emissions from automobiles, CFC released in aerosol cans and industrial pollution. These claims are supported by climate model projections that suggest that this increased temperature will cause sea levels to rise, increase the intensity and quantity of extreme weather events such as tsunamis, result in glacier loss and varied amounts of precipitation. However there remain many uncertainties about the causes and effects of global warming in the scientific community and this had lead to disagreement about what actions need to be taken if any at all.
The Kyoto Protocol is aimed at reducing gas emissions and most national governments have supported and ratified this agreement, taking measures to cut back on emissions and seeking alternative energy sources for transportation and renewable energy sources to power communities. Individual nations have initiated their own programs toward this end but many feel that there is little that can be done to reduce or reverse future global warming or what its consequences will be. Larger initiatives seeking alternative energy sources look at wind farms, dam building, solar-powered cities and motion created energy in sea worms. Because much of the modern world emerged out of a reliance on fossil fuels the change to alternative energy sources is limited and slow because of the readily available fuels and gases.
Some leading scientists, such as Professor Bill Grey from Colorado State University, believe global warming is nothing more than an anomaly and a hoax manipulated by the media who are "all out for Pulitzer Prizes." (Achenbach, 2006). Grey is considered the "World's Most Famous Hurricane Expert" and a top atmospheric scientist in his field. In an agreement, NASA scientist James Hansen says, "our models were not predicting the ozone hole in 1980 when it was discovered," to which Grey adds that "The models can't even predict the weather in two weeks, much less 100 years," (Achenbach, 2006). Both scientists do not believe in the idea of global warming and have much evidence to support their claims from past models and media-induced fears to paradoxes in the global warming argument. They point to anxieties about sea level rises and counter these with proof that sea levels have fallen in many areas. When shown glaciers that have receded, they find glaciers that have actually gotten larger during this same period. And to the model showing the rise in earth's temperature, they show that in the past Earth's temperature also went through a period of cooling as well and conclude that global warming is just another period which will eventually reverse into a pattern of cooling in the future.
Whether or not global warming exists in the intensity portrayed in the media is arguable. Increased surface temperature does exist but whether it is here to stay and do damage or whether it is just an anomaly that will pass in time is something that can not be concluded.
- Achenbach, J. (2006, May 28). The Tempest. Retrieved March 17, 2008, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/23/AR2006052301305_pf.html.
- Hitz, S., & Smith, J. (2004). Estimating global impacts from climate change. Global Environmental Change Part A, 14(3), 201-218.
- Karl, T., & Trenberth, K. (2003). Modern Global Climate Change. Science, 302(5651), 1719-1723.