Ever since the concept of global warming was introduced, controversy has shadowed the validity of this CO2 emissions theory. Many respected scientists oppose the theory. To make up your mind about this highly-charged debate, you need to examine both sides of the argument, the science and the facts of what's occurred since global warming became a household word.
Global Warming Debate
The Global Warming theory unequivocally claims that the cause of rising temperatures on the planet surface sits squarely on the shoulders of humankind. Specifically, the world is heating up because humans have been burning fossil fuels for the last 100 years. This combustion process is blamed for elevated levels of CO2 in the atmosphere that are said to be responsible for creating a "greenhouse effect". The greenhouse effect is in turn causing the planet temperatures to rise beyond normal and natural levels.
Politics and Global Warming
There is also a political component that cannot be overlooked when it comes to the global warming issue and the ramifications Al Gore's Global Warming theory has had on big business. Several things happened once global warming hit mainstream America and gained momentum and international acceptance.
UN and Company Incentives
The UN (United Nations) endorsed a program designed to discourage and reward companies around the world to turn away from fossil fuels. The Carbon Credit Program is complex and weighs the company's carbon footprint and then awards points to those companies acting responsibly in an effort to reduce the amount of CO2 they release into the atmosphere.
The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) joined in the fight against global warming by developing a computer model to forecast the overall effects of the global warming theory.
Carbon Credits Program
This program has many benefits for companies, but critics claim that the system fails on the environmental front since it allows companies with high carbon credits to trade them to companies that have few or no carbon credits due to their environmentally unhealthy manufacturing and business processes.
Those who support carbon credits cite that the system balances clean energy companies with polluting ones. Opponents claim that the system does nothing to encourage polluting companies to take corrective measures, since all a polluting, non-green company has to do is purchase the appropriate number of carbon credits from eco-friendly companies.
A Political Conundrum
The Global Warming theory has become a battleground for politicians and special interests groups fighting to maintain the status quo. Many leading scientists have challenged the CO2 theory over the past decade. Even in light of conflicting scientific data such as the Cloud Theory that emerged around the same time as the Global Warming Theory, those married to the idea of CO2 and Global Warming remain convinced that this theory is the answer to why the climate is changing. The term global warming evolved to the preferred climate change term; something most scientists can agree is happening.
About the IPCC Global Warming Model
The IPCC model, ensconced in controversy since it was first published, subsequently, issued several updated assessment reports that many scientists say invalidate the initial report. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) states on its website, "Errors identified in the satellite data and other temperature observations have been corrected. Research to detect climate change and attribute its causes using patterns of observed temperature change shows clear evidence of human influences on the climate…"
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
NOAA reports that surface temperatures have "increased about 0.74°C (plus or minus 0.18°C) since the late-19th century" but, also state this isn't a uniform warming trend. "Some areas (including parts of the southeastern U.S. and parts of the North Atlantic) have, in fact, cooled slightly over the last century." It is further noted that NOAA's analysis serves as a way to reconcile the IPCC Third Assessment Report discrepancies of warming rates.
Another Debate Sparked
Some activists have now categorized CO2 as a pollutant and undertaken the mission of a Congressional bill to decree CO2 is a pollutant. This move has stirred further debates. Plants Need CO2 states that CO2 is in fact, beneficial to the planet, especially plant life and is essential in the production of oxygen.
Global Warming Theory Challenged
Many environmental scientists disagree with the CO2 theory and that it is responsible for climate changes. According to these scientists, the Earth isn't heating up at all, but is entering a cooling cycle that many compare to the mini-ice age that began in 1350 AD and lasted until 1850 AD.
The Little Ice Age
Environmental History Resources gives a detailed account of the climate changes that occurred during the Little Ice Age period from 1350 AD to 1850 AD.
- The Baltic Sea froze over.
- European rivers and lakes, including England's Thames River froze.
- Several villages in the Alps disappeared beneath encroaching glaciers.
- The winters, especially during the time frame of 1600 AD to 1800 AD, were unusually cold and lasted longer than normal.
- Summers were warmer than usual.
When the historical data for this timeframe was reviewed, scientists found a noticeable change in sunspot activity. This decrease in solar flare activity known as the Maunder Minimum has been cited as a possible cause of the mini-ice age.
Is Global Warming Real?
Those who believe the Global Warming theory remain staunch that CO2 is the cause, while those who oppose the theory remain just as firm in their stance. The opposing side of the argument claims that the warming effect of the planet surface is merely a cyclical warming process that's a natural event. The cause isn't man made, but instead is due to a cycle of higher solar activity, specifically solar flares.
Scientific data supports through the validation of experiments that the Earth is in a constant state of change. The scientists who conducted these experiments claim the results discredit the CO2 theory.
Greenland Melting, Not So Fast
Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth movie states that Greenland is melting and will cause the oceans to rise some twenty feet.
There is no denying that in June 2011, the Arctic ice cap "was the second lowest in the satellite record, consistent with the overall downward trend of the past thirty years. The lowest year for June was 2010," as related by the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
In 2009, New.com.au reported that the Antarctic ice is actually expanding. The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research report stated that the South Pole had shown "significant cooling in recent decades". Ian Allison, Director of the Australian Antarctic Division glaciology program is quoted as saying, "there was not any evidence of significant change in the mass of ice shelves in east Antarctica nor any indication that its ice cap was melting. "
Another Explanation for Climate Changes
There have been other theories proposed to explain the current climate change, but the one that has gained the most attention is the Cloud Theory. An eight-year research project was conducted by several scientists, lead by Danish Physicist Henrik Svensmark, Head of Center for Sun-Climate Research, DTU Space Technical University of Denmark.
The Cloud Theory
The Cloud Theory states that cosmic rays are responsible for creating clouds when they enter the Earth's atmosphere. This contradicts the commonly accepted theory is that the Earth's climate is responsible for creating clouds. In turn, Svensmark states that the magnetic fields of the sun can change Earth clouds and therefore, the sun, not CO2 is responsible for climate change. His research on data taken from satellite cloud variation data and cosmic ray intensity shows a correlation between these two elements.
Svensmark's research revealed that the magnetic field of the sun has increased over the last 100 years. This increase has interfered with the amount of cosmic rays entering the Earth's atmosphere. This created a decrease in the formation of clouds, specifically, low clouds that serve to cool the climate. Without these two key players, the Earth has heated up.
Taking the science one step further, Richard Turco, Director of UCLA Institute of the Environment was working with aerosols. He specifically questioned how aerosols are produced and found the Cloud Theory directly correlated with his aerosol theory that cosmic rays coming into the atmosphere produce small ions that form aerosols on which clouds are then formed.
Deciding If Global Warming Is Fact or Fiction
These are just two of the many theories surrounding this volatile subject of global warming. Based on the conflicting science of these two opposing viewpoints, you may find it difficult to decide which theory to believe. You may choose to believe in Al Gore's Global Warming that warns of the continued heating up of the Earth from manmade CO2 emissions. Or, you may decide that the Cloud Theory that explains climate change as a natural process with the prediction of a decrease in solar activity, which threatens an ensuing ice age. Whichever theory you choose to believe, you can be certain that climate change is real.