The Global Warming Debate: “People always complain about the weather, now they’ve done something about it.”
Greenland melting. Credit: Russel Huff and and Konrad Steffen, CIRES
Humans are doing something about global warming. Humans are dumping ever larger amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. The burden of proof is not on global warming theorists, it’s on the advocates of continued CO2 production, they need to prove that what’s already being done is safe and sensible. This is what people need to be debating.
The global warming debate. Myself, I’m not terribly interested in debating the issue more, I will be convinced that anthropogenic global warming theory is wrong if the Earth starts to cool or someone comes up with a better theory about why our planet is heating up. As Jack asked, where are the skeptics? Well, it’s pretty simple, most of them have been convinced over the last decade that anthropogenic global warming science and theory is sound. The page I posted previously is my response to the objections that have been raised so far. Nonetheless global warming is a fascinating topic, I will continue to post on it, and any and all comments are welcome. For me however, like evolution, anthropogenic global warming is a fact until a better theory or conflicting observation comes along.
For some people though, the jury is not yet in. My hope at this point is global warming will get so bad so fast that no one will be able to ignore it anymore. That’s what happened in the Ozone Hole crisis of the seventies and eighties, after dithering awhile the damn hole started growing at an alarming rate. The Montreal Protocol was signed, the world phased out CFCs, and the hole began shrinking rapidly. In fact the Montreal Protocol has been called “Perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date…” by Koffi Annan. We did it once, we can do it again when it becomes obvious. I hope.
And oddly enough as some have feared, the global warming curves seem to be following worst case predictions at this point. The Arctic ice cover situation is alarming for one, it’s disappearing faster than our best models predicted. This is not a good thing. And just for fun, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere seems to have surged upwards even faster starting about 2000, again, a worst case scenario. If this acceleration continues even modestly we will be seeing dramatic changes in the world within a few years. Lots of interesting blog posts there no doubt.
Of course I don’t really want to experience calamitous results from global warming, I’ve experienced close up an earthquake and a fire, they cured me of any desire to experience any further disasters thank you. I’d prefer that the Earth’s temperature and climate stabilized, that would be my druthers. Even if the warming stopped now we’d muddle through just fine. Or at least the rate of warming needs to slow, that’s the heart of the problem. It’s not that a warmer Earth wouldn’t have it’s advantages, there were even wild schemes hatched in the seventies to melt the Arctic, it’s the uncontrolled high rate of change that’s the problem.
In other words, a warmer Earth as a destination isn’t the issue, it’s getting there safely. The Earth’s climate has never warmed so far so fast from what we can tell, so it’s any body’s guess what will result. As in waging war, messing with ecosystems is beholden to the law of unintended consequences. It could be a wild ride, experimenting with the planet’s atmosphere is a much bigger proposition than blowing up a few countries. Because irregardless the merits of the global warming debate, for now humans are continuing to dump CO2 into the air in ever increasing amounts. We are quite literally testing anthropogenic global warming theory as I type, using ourselves and our planet as test subjects. Whatever the result, it’s going to be fascinating. Life on Earth always is.
And worse case scenario, ecosystems are remarkably adaptable, it’s not like we aren’t already causing a mass extinction. I mean it sounds cold, and it is, but life will go on. And as long as some humans survive, there’s hope we can learn from our mistakes and do it better next time. So we lose some apex predators, in a way that just makes us the ultimate apex predator. Go team, yeah. And heck, we will still have Polar Bears in zoos, it’s not like they will be extinct. And if global warming all turns out to be a hoax after all, why, the skeptics are welcome to give me endless grief in the future! I’d much rather be teased than be right in this case. Anyhow, speaking of apex predators…I have some thoughts about the Taliban and Saddam…but that’s for another post.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. It was produced by the University of Colorado Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences.)