Global Warming Is Real
Global warming has become a much feared environmental problem. Even the media and politicians of all sorts have put more attention to this environmental phenomenon. However, many people still doubt that there is global warming. Some say that global warming was only conceptualized to strike fear into a lot of people while some say that there is really not much evidence to prove that global warming really exists. But the truth is, global warming exists and this can be proven by existing temperature data over the past century.
Before delving deeper on the subject of global warming, it is first important to understand how the greenhouse effect works since it is a fundamental concept when speaking of climate change. The greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, ozone, methane and water vapor prevents heats from escaping the Earth’s atmosphere which is very similar to how a real greenhouse works. About 30 percent of the sunlight that is directed towards the Earth is reflected back into space while the remaining 70 percent enters the atmosphere and is reflected back as infrared radiation. Greenhouse gases absorb this radiation which in turn slows down the escape of heat resulting in the warming of the planet (West). The concept behind global warming is that the increased amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere brought about by human activities aggravates the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is however a natural process and the Earth would be too cold to sustain the current ecosystem if there is no greenhouse effect (West).
Many people and researchers attest that they do not believe in global warming or that global warming is not true. It has been mentioned a number of times that a scientist cannot confidently say that global warming is true. They would always show a hint of hesitation. Data gathered from US government satellite and balloon measurements have indicated that the planet’s temperature is actually cooling at a very slow rate of 0.037 degree Celsius (American Policy Center, 2008).
It has also been indicated that data provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is not reliable since these scientists tend to be inclined to take a side since their political agendas harmonize with the green agenda of many politicians. Research works by NASA tend to be manipulated to produce a certain desired outcome (American Policy Center, 2008).
Computer models used to predict weather changes can also be described as flawed since it only makes a “best guess”. There are too many variables to consider when predicting the weather. Existing computer models can only include two of the 14 components of crucial to determining climate and in order to include the third component, the current computers should be a thousand times faster than the current computer systems available today. To include all factors would be impossible with the current technological capabilities of humans. Yet, those who have been forwarding the climate change movement say that they can indicate the temperature decades from now (American Policy Center, 2008).
John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama, contradicted the report which says that 2005 is the warmest year on record. The report came from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). After an examination of the entire “bulk” troposphere, he came to a conclusion that 2005 is not the warmest year. He said that his approach at measuring the climate is more reliable compared to studies that measured surface-temperature (Britt, 2006).
It has been regarded that the polar ice caps are melting because of global warming, however, evidence has also pointed to the cooling of the Antarctic, particularly its interior and this was considered as a proof that the planet is not warming but is rather cooling. This would appear to disprove any claim that global warming is not true (McKenna, 2007).
Many also argue that global warming occurs naturally since carbon dioxide and some other greenhouse gases are emitted naturally by plant and animal respiration and decomposition. Also, only a little amount of manmade greenhouse gases is present in the atmosphere; an amount small enough to affect the climate (Mother Jones, 2005).
According to researchers, 2005 marked the highest annual average temperature. However, researchers were not entirely confident with the results of the research because of the absence of direct data but they expressed reasonable confidence with the result of the study. According to James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, 2005 reached its warmth comparable to 1998 without the help of the El Nino phenomenon. In the past 30 years, the Earth’s average temperature has increased by more than one degree making the temperature the warmest in 10,000 years. Hansen blames the temperature rise on the increased levels of emissions of greenhouse gases (The Associated Press, 2006).
According to a research by the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), 2005 was the warmest year of this century followed by 2007 and 1998 which is tied at second. The eight warmest years of the century have all occurred after 1998 and the 14 warmest years can all be traced after 1990. Goddard Institute researchers make use of temperature data gathered from weather stations, satellite measurements and sea ice temperature. Hansen said that the warming trend has continued for the past 30 years and this is directly attributable to increasing greenhouse gas emissions (GISS, 2008).
The year 2005 was recognized as the warmest year even as it is at the same rate as that of the average annual temperature in 1998. This is largely because the 2005 temperature reached its peak even in the absence of the El Niño phenomenon. The same phenomenon increased the 1998 temperature by 0.2 degrees and was the strongest El Niño for the century (GISS, 2006).
The average global temperature increased by 0.8 degrees Celsius in the past decade and 0.6 degrees Celsius in the past three decades. The claim that much of the global warming occurred before 1940 may no longer be accurate because of the data presented above. This data could also be interpreted to the hastening of the warming process occurring in the planet (GISS, 2006).
In 2002, 400 percent of carbon dioxide emissions can be traced from electricity production which makes use of burning fossil fuels such as coal. Coal is also responsible for the production of 93 percent of greenhouse emissions from electricity production. Also, 33 percent of carbon dioxide comes from vehicle emissions in the United States. Methane has also been increasing because of human acts. It may be noted that methane traps more heat compared to carbon dioxide which makes it a worse greenhouse gas (EcoBridge).
Deforestation is also aggravates climate change since it releases carbon dioxide as well as reducing the trees that absorb carbon dioxide. It has been estimated that 34 million acres of forests are lost each year (EcoBridge).
There is no scientific debate whether the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has increased since it is clear that human acts have caused much of an increase in greenhouse emissions. The pre-industrial level of carbon dioxide was only at 280 parts per million by volume and this figure has risen to levels greater than 380 parts per million by volume (NOAA, 2008).
Measuring the climate on the basis of average annual temperature may not be appropriate in proving whether global warming is true or not since researchers have been using different methods and bases in their studies. Some scientists might factor one aspect of temperature which another researcher might not. This creates a conflict on which researcher present a more accurate annual average temperature data. Some scientists may come up with evidence that the planet is warming and some may find evidence that the planet is cooling.
Climate models are also not very accurate since some parts of the planet may warm faster than other regions. This is a reason why the Antarctic region is cooling. The cooling of the Antarctic is not because there is no global warming. The cooling may be attributed to the “strengthening of the circular winds around the continent, which prevent warmer air reaching its interior”. Increase in wind speeds appears to be a result of upper atmosphere cooling because of the hole in the ozone layer above the continent. As the ozone layer repairs itself, this could lead to a weakening of the circular winds which would hasten the occurring warming process (McKenna, 2007).
The observed cooling of Antarctica does not disprove global warming. It is just what is expected of global warming. As the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increases, much of the heat is being absorbed into the upper layer of the waters. Larger bodies of water like oceans have the capacity to absorb more heat. As the planet heats further, the heat in oceans also seep deeper. The oceans are actually delaying the warming of the globe. The delay would however not be the same everywhere. The delay of the warming trend would be longer in the Southern Hemisphere since it has larger bodies of water compared to the Northern Hemisphere. Computer models have indicated that the Antarctica will not warm up until much of the rest of the planet has experienced radical temperature increases (Weart, 2008).
The claim that the results of the research of NASA scientists is affected by their personal biases is not accurate and is subjective since it only presents claims without actual evidence that the research results have been manipulated.
In predicting weather conditions, scientists cannot really come up with very accurate data on how the climate may change which is why weather forecasts are not completely reliable since several factors may affect weather conditions. Scientists really just make “best guesses” when it comes to weather and climate but it would be more aptly called an interpretation of factors affecting the weather in order to come up with an intellectual guess. This does not disprove global warming since it has been discovered through a research process that evaluates reliable data to come up with a valid conclusion.
Global warming is true. Much evidence has pointed to the existence of global warming and any evidence disproving global warming are either circumstantial evidence or subjective. Even as the Antarctic is showing cooling weather, this does not necessarily mean that global warming is not true since it is only expected that the climate in the Antarctic will cool because of several factors. The Antarctic will only most likely experience warming when much of the planet has already undergone extreme warming. Global warming is not a conspiracy theory and it is also not conceptualized to strike fear to people. It was discovered through research wherein the researchers noticed a consistent warming of the planet for the past century. This warming process is taking place at a much faster pace since the greenhouse gas emissions have been constantly increasing due too much of human activities.
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American Policy Center. 2008. There is No Global Warming. Retrieved August 17, 2008, from http://www.americanpolicy.org/un/thereisnoglobal.htm
Britt, R. 1 February 2006. Conflicting Claims on Global Warming and Why It’s All Moot. Live Science. Retrieved August 17, 2008, from http://www.livescience.com/environment/060201_temperature_differences.html
The Associated Press. 24 January 2006. 2005 Possibly the Warmest on Record. Live Science. Retrieved August 17, 2008, from http://www.livescience.com/environment/ap_060124_2005_temp.html
Mckenna, P. 16 May 2007. Climate myths: Antarctica is getting cooler, not warmer, disproving global warming. New Scientist Environment. Retrieved August 17, 2008, from http://environment.newscientist. com/channel/earth/climate-change/dn11648
Weart, S. 12 February 2008. Antarctica is Cold? Yeah, We Knew That. Real Climate. Retrieved August 17, 2008, from http://www.realclimate. org/index.php/archives/2008/02/antarctica-is-cold/
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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 8 May 2008. Global Warming: Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved August 18, 2008, from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/globalwarming.html