FACT OR FICTION? Global warming is the latest crisis for our world to face. Most scientists commonly believe that artificial CO2 emissions are causing climate change and that to avert an increase in global temperatures, we have to cut down our use of CO2-producing fossil fuels. However, some leading researchers believe that this is not the case, that rising temperatures are a natural process that occurs organically and that the climate change we are experiencing now is merely a blip. Although many arguments are supporting either side, much of it is theory or speculation. Thus, it is important to verify each point with strong, conclusive evidence. An important thing to consider is that people’s viewpoints can sometimes be influenced by what they believe. In this essay, I will examine the arguments for and against human CO2 causing global warming and present my point of view in conclusion.
GLOBAL WARMING AND THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT. Global warming, by definition, is the increase in the average temperature of the Earth and its oceans in recent times. Research by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) concluded that global average air temperature near the Earth’s surface rose 0.74 ï¿½ 0.18 ï¿½C (1.3 ï¿½ 0.32 ï¿½F) during the last century. The panel also assessed that “most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.” (Anthropogenic meaning effects, processes, objects, or materials resultant from human activities.)
This process, coupled with natural phenomena such as volcanoes, leads to warming the higher atmosphere and contributes to the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect was first discovered by Joseph Fourier in 1829 and first fully investigated in Svante Arrhe1nius 1896. The term is a comparison with the heating of air within a greenhouse. The planets Mars and, particularly, Venus also have greenhouse effects. Diagram illustrating the process of the greenhouse effect
Arguments Against Anthropogenic Global Warming. Global Warming and the Oceans. One of the foremost arguments against anthropogenic global warming is that if global temperatures rise/fall, then the carbon dioxide levels rise/fall accordingly after a period of years. The oceans are the largest producers of carbon dioxide globally; they act as reservoirs into which the CO2 goes when it leaves the atmosphere after these temperature shifts. Because of this, if the oceans were to heat up, carbon dioxide would emit and, similarly, if the oceans were to cool down, more CO2 would be dissolved. However, fluctuating temperatures in the oceans take years; this is the cause of the consistent time lag in the change of CO2 levels.
It is thought that to remember shifts in a climate so well; the oceans must have a ‘memory of temperature changes’ running over many years. Scientists say that if this is the case, we are currently experiencing the CO2 increase after a period in the 1940s where temperatures rose by over 0.5 degrees Celsius. This would mean that humans cannot be blamed for global warming, as the temperature rises occurred when CO2 emitting inventions were not used as intensively as they are now. The reader should remember that I collected this information from the Channel Four television programme, “The Great Global Warming Swindle,” which has been subject to accusations of misrepresentation. Graph showing the time lag between temperature increases and rising CO2 levels
Global Warming and Solar Activity. Another point against humans causing global warming is the theory that solar activity sunspots (a region on the Sun’s surface marked by a lower temperature than its surroundings and has intense magnetic activity) cause changes in the Earth’s temperature. However, in 1893 the British astronomer Edward Maunder noticed that there were almost no sunspots during the period known as the Little Ice Age.
New research has shown that the sun’s radiation has increased by 0.5% since the 1970s. Richard Wilson, a Columbia University researcher, said that “This trend is important because, if sustained over many decades, it could cause significant climate change.” In addition, a recent study by Swiss and German scientists proposed that increasing radiation levels from the sun are to blame for climate change. Dr. Sami Solanki, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany, who led the study, said: “The Sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures.
The Sun is in a changed state. It is brighter than it was a few hundred years ago, and this brightening started relatively recently – in the last 100 to 150 years.” Solanki said that this increase in the Sun’s output and greenhouse gases contributed to the increase in global climate. To decide the Sun’s function in global warming, Dr. Solanki’s research team measured magnetic zones on the Sun’s surface known as sunspots, which are believed to intensify the Sun’s energy output. The team then went on to study sunspot data going back several hundred years.
They discovered that the pattern indicated that an absence of sunspots signalled a cold period and that over the past century, the number of sunspots had increased as the Earth’s climate grew steadily warmer. As human activity does not affect the Sun, this theory rules out human responsibility in global warming. The source of this information was a website called “space.com,” backed by scientists and various other science-based websites. However, the article I used to find this information was written in 2003, which could mean that evidence has since come out to disprove it.
- Graph illustrating increases in Earth’s temperature correlating with increasing sunspots. www.global-warming-myths.com/images/Sunspot_A… http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/sun_output_030320.html
In 1996, near the last solar minimum, the Sun was nearly featureless. By 1999, approaching maximum, it is dotted by sunspots and fiery hot gas trapped in magnetic loops.
ARGUMENTS FOR ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING. Global Warming And Ice Core Data. Through the study of ancient ice cores from Antarctica, it is possible to gauge concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In June of 1999, ice core data from the Vostok site in Antarctica was published. The new data showed us temperature variations and atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases back to 420,000 years before the present. The main significance of the data lies in the correlation between concentrations of carbon dioxide in the air and temperature, with fluctuations in one plot closely mirrored in the other for the whole period. For example, look at the graph below. Notice how CO2 concentration rises vertically at the end of the time series.
The increase appears vertical because of the large time scale, but it actually occurs over the past 150 years, which corresponds to the industrial age, when humans used fossil fuels in great amounts. The basis of this information was the website www.daviesand.com. While not from a particularly well-known site, the article had an extensive list of its sources of information at the bottom of the page, stating where the data came from and when. However, this is ice core data from the year 2000, so the evidence could potentially be out of date.
Global Warming And Industry. Global warming believers deem human industry and CO2-producing fossil fuels to be the main cause of climate change. However, there is still the question of whether these emissions are entirely due to human activity. From the data below, we can assume that the answer is yes because it shows that carbon dioxide levels have been increasing since the 18th century, the time of the industrial revolution. Anthropogenic carbon emissions and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration are also shown in the graph below.
Current emissions are almost 7 billion metric tons per year. The current carbon dioxide concentration is about 360 parts per million. Although these two curves follow a similar growing course, they are not in close conformity except during the last 2 decades. Furthermore, the reliability of my source could be questioned because the information was published in 1998. And, although the article contained a lot of technical language, it was from a relatively unknown website—anthropogenic carbon emissions (green circles) and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration (red squares) from 1900.
Conclusion. After gathering and considering all of the above arguments, I can summarise the evidence both for and against anthropogenic global warming. The main arguments used by global warming skeptics are that the Earth’s oceans release CO2 into our atmosphere and that sunspots are causing the increase in global temperatures observed over the last 35 years. On the other hand, global warming believers consider the human industry to blame for the increased CO2 and thus the increase in temperature. They have data from ice cores found in Antarctica to back up their ideas whilst the doubters’ ideas are more difficult to investigate and evaluate. Partly because of this, the general public is more familiar with the pro-global warming theories and accepts them as fact more easily.
I consider each side of the argument to be scientifically sound with enough evidence to prove its reliability. Personally, I would like to believe that global warming is not down to human activity, but equally that we can do something to stop its potentially catastrophic effects. Even if we are not entirely to blame, our carbon emissions must have contributed to some extent to the current level of CO2 in the atmosphere. Because of this, we can work to reduce our use of fossil fuels and do our best to help our damaged environment. The evidence for anthropogenic global warming:
- The oceans are releasing the temperature, increasing CO2.
- More sunspots=warmer
- Humans have no control over the sun
- Fewer sunspots=colder
- Both are believable, although also both are just theories.
The evidence against anthropogenic global warming: Ice core data indicates that the industrial age was when CO2 started. Human industry…..as above More like established but just because we are more familiar with the theories. Far less controversy. the suggestion that the oceans store CO2 being responsible for the increase in global temperatures seems quite realistic and logical, although the source I.