Whether global warming is a theory or a reality has been a matter of debate over the years. In fact, global warming and the evident climatic change poses as one of the most controversial, unclear, and highly debated phenomena in the world today with proponents and skeptics taking different sides of the argument.
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While the proponents of global warming strongly believe that the phenomenon is a reality and is greatly responsible for the variations in climate witnessed in the last few years resulting from increased emission of greenhouse gases (Proctor, 2009), the skeptics and those opposed to the concept of global warming have dismissed it as a mere myth or rather an assumption with no-scientific evidence linking it to anthropogenic activities and which is greatly non-apprehensive (Wollstein, 2007).
In their own argument, the proponents of global warming argue that the increased human activities that have led to increased emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere are responsible for the erratic climatic changes and global warming (Wollstein, 2007).
Although scientists are yet to come up with a comprehensive and clear scientific evidence linking the changing climatic changes with the depletion of ozone layer due to increased emission of greenhouse gases (the latter of which are believed to be the craft behind the global warming phenomenon), the recent suspicious climatic variations, steadily increasing temperatures and depletion of ice cover are indications that global warming issue may not be a myth after all (IPCC, 2001).
For instance, the recent unprecedented global variations in climatic conditions have escalated further the world’s world’s global warming debate.
Furthermore, the 1997 El Nino coupled with scores of other climatic signs that appear to evidence the myth of the global warming has turned the world attention to the phenomenon leading to staging of global platform to discuss the issues and seek solutions with a unified objective of “saving” the world from the looming catastrophe (IPCC, 2001).
One of the most famous and recent such conferences is the Kyoto conference which was held in Japan in 1997 and that sought to discuss the global warming phenomenon as well as find suitable solution to either prevent its escalation or mitigate the effects of the same.
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As a result, the conference led to the participants’participants’ consensus on global warming and ended with the signing of an international decree to stem further emission of greenhouse gases to stem global warming, famously known as the “Kyoto protocol” (COP-3, 1997).
Irrespective of the fact that the partial consensus on global warming greatly brought out the issue of global warming as reality, skeptics and a number of climate scientist have stepped forward to disapprove that global warming is in indeed a reality and that gases emissions as a result of human activities were responsible for global warming and evidenced variations in climate.
This paper, therefore, presents an in-depth argument for the global warming theory and aims at disapproving skeptics of global warming that it is indeed a reality and not a myth. It seeks to prove that it is indeed human activities that are responsible for global warming, particular via increased emission of greenhouse gases-predominantly CO2.
The changing climatic conditions
The underlying principle behind the global warming phenomena and the ensuing debate is the unprecedented variations in climate that continues to be witnessed in different parts of the world (IPCC, 2001). Ideally, such changes in climate can be vividly observed and undeniable even by the skeptics.
Although the observed changing climatic conditions are greatly reliant on global climatic trends observation rather than global climate models, the worlds world’s scientist (including the skeptics of the future global warming) have unanimously accepted that there are unusual and unmatched variations in the global climate and which have steadily continued to change over the last few decades.
However, those opposed to global warming have adamantly continued to refute the proponent’s augment that climate changes are a direct result of increased emission of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide into the atmosphere resulting from increased human activities (Wollstein, 2007).
As such, the latter has dismissed the global warming issue as a myth that can hardly be proven by scientific evidence. However, facts about suspicious variations in climatic conditions greatly raised the alarm and presented an authentic pedestal for proponents to stage their argument for global warming.
The escalating level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the changing global temperatures
According to the proponents of global warming, irrespective of the fact that water vapor is the largest constituent of greenhouse gases, its concentration in the atmosphere has been proven to be consistent in determining temperature trends (Wollstein, 2007).
According to the latter, enhanced human activities have led to increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide that is consistently being emitted from the burning of fossil fuels and increased deforestation.
Furthermore, emissions from global wetlands, termites and world water bodies particularly oceans coupled with gaseous emissions from ruminant animals, rice paddies, natural gases operations, and landfills among other sources of natural methane have led to an indisputable increase in the concentration of methane and related gases in the atmosphere (Archer, 2005).
In addition, Archer argues that increased use of nitrogen fertilizers in agriculture has led to an escalation in the levels of nitrous oxide and related gases in the atmosphere. Furthermore, the role of human activities in global warming is greatly evidenced by the fact that any of the chlorofluorocarbons have no known natural sources. Hence, their increased concentration in the atmosphere is solely as a result of human activities.
According to Proctor (2009), scientific evidence reveals that higher concentration of greenhouse gases are associated with higher temperature based on the underpinning evidence that the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases keep the globe warmer than it could have been if such gases were less concentrated than they are present.
From the facts, it has been proven that durations that have in the past been characterized by high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere recorded higher temperature levels with the vice versa also holding to be true (Hansen, 2006).
The latter argues that the presence of increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has seen the earth temperature escalate by approximately 50oF, an implication that the surface temperature would have been 50oF lower than it currently is if such gases were virtually absent in the atmosphere.
According to the proponents of global warming (Archer, 2005), the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases has the potential for influencing global climate change long in the future after their emission into the atmosphere.
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This is particularly because the greenhouse gases have a long life and long term atmospheric effects ranging from a decade for methane gases, approximately a century for carbon dioxide to one and half-century for nitrous oxide gases; a factor that has made the climatic system to have high climatic inertia, basically as a result of long lifetimes of the oceanic dynamical processes.
Irrespective of the fact that the degree of cooling effects from the sulfate particles that constitute sulfur dioxide has not been clearly ascertained, there is slight evidence that the higher their concentration in the atmosphere, the lower the global temperature as a result of their cooling effects.
Contracting evidence also points out the depletion of the ozone has had a positive contribution to global cooling, a factor that supports the global warming theory (Archer, 2005).
Over the last decade, however, evidence from the climate scientists approximates that the global temperatures have increased by a range of 0.3oC and 0.7oC (PIRCS, 1998).
The latter asserts that despite the fact that natural factors have played a role in the variations of the climatic condition and that it is almost impossible to accurately ascertain the contributions of human activities, increased greenhouse gases emission and resulting global warming in the same, the fact is that the latter is real, and its contributions to the changing global climatic conditions is equally significant.
However, the proof of global warming and its contribution to global climatic variations greatly depend on the ability and accuracy of the climatic scientists as well as the proponents of global warming to significantly reduce the uncertainty on the role of clouds variations, changes in water vapor, ice, oceanic circulation as well as regional variation of the respective climatic conditions (PIRCS, 1998).
The skeptics’skeptics’ argument against global warming
Despite the presence of massive substantiation of global warming (that ranges from instrumental surface temperature records, withdrawer of mountain glaciers, and borehole temperature trends to blanching of coral reefs) those opposed to global warming theory have cited two main studies to push their argument through.
First, although the satellite temperature measurements from 1979 cited in Christy, Spencer & McNider (1995) revealed evidence of warming, skeptics argued that the later was only half the value of surface temperature values in this time.
Furthermore, an empirical survey in 1995 suggested that variations in the season’s cycle were solely responsible for the witnessed variations in the global temperatures (IPCC, 1995). However, the study failed to present any link whatsoever to radioactive forcing for the identification of the physical processes responsible for the variations.
In effect, the studies have been dismissed by the proponents of global warming as lacking in authenticity and apprehensiveness, thus requiring further investigations and falling short of the ability to offer a substantial base for anyone to conclude that global warming is a myth (Wollstein, 2007).
The global warming skeptics, while dismissing the proponents argument that the increase in the global temperature is as a result of increased emission of greenhouse gases, they argued that the steady increase in the world’s temperatures over the past a hundred and thirty years was still evident in the early years of the 20th century long before the purported inflation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases began (Wollstein, 2007).
As a result, skeptics argue that the warming must have been as a result of variation in natural factors and not a result of anthropogenic causes (Proctor, 2009).
However, the proof of the cooling effects and brightening of clouds by sulfate particles of sulfur dioxide, which results from the combustion of coal by human beings, counters the earlier argument by the skeptics presenting an ideal prove that global warming has a high possibility of having an anthropogenic link.
Global warming: what proponents say?
The militant proponents of global warming theory continue to insist that the globe is greatly threatened by the steadily increasing levels of greenhouse gases and which poses a potential of completely bringing to the end of life of the human race as well as all other forms of life on earth (Wollstein, 2007).
According to the latter, the basic cause of global warming and which is currently being evidenced by drastic variations in climatic conditions is the increased emission of greenhouse gases – mainly carbon dioxide from anthropogenic sources which includes but not limited to emission from cars, widespread industries and factories, barbecues grills or even via the most natural act of breathing.
Going by the proponents’proponents’ theory of global warming and which the latter has presented as mere facts, it is only a comprehensive drastic reduction in emission of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which can, in fact, save the world from the imminent danger of extinction (Wollstein, 2007).
At one point, the proponents of the global warming have asserted that continued debate on the global warming phenomenon was greatly uncalled for and its time long gone in fact suggested that the global warming skeptics needed to be categorized and treated as Islamic terrorists as their continued skeptics meant the end of human race (Proctor, 2009).
The current worsening of climatic conditions under increased anthropogenic operations and increased atmospheric pollution greatly justify the seriousness in which the proponents have taken the issue of global warming. In fact, they adamantly continue to insist that the international scientists must unanimously reach a consensus that global warming is a reality and not a myth as skeptics would like to make people believe.
The proponents have relentlessly carried on with their endeavor to prove to the people that global warming is a direct result of human activities and the resultant atmospheric pollution via emission of greenhouse gases predominantly CO2.
As such, the proponents of global warming have tended to dismiss the global warming skeptics as either industrial trills, unbelievably misadvised individuals, or simply evil fellows who should not be allowed to mislead others further, thus deserving immediate silencing (Proctor, 2009).
At one point, Jackstraw – the British foreign secretary – the latter of whom is a strong proponent of global warming, indicated that skeptics deserved being treated the same as supporters of Islamic terrorists who didn’t even deserve to be allowed access to the media.
Also, grist magazine in the representation of true believers of global warming strongly indicated that climatic change was a result of anthropogenic activities, thus suggested that those who adamantly continued to deny this fact be tried using Nuremberg-style “war crime” (Wollstein, 2007).
The proponents win: signing of the Kyoto protocol
In what seemed initially as the proponents win, the international conference that was held in Tokyo Japan in 1997 and which sought to reach consensus that global warming and the climate change were direct results of human activities particularly via admission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, led to the signing of the Kyoto protocol by almost all the participants (COP-3, 1997).
In fact, the nations represented in the conference unanimously agreed that increased emission of greenhouse gases predominantly carbon dioxide was the chief cause of global warming and responsible for the evidenced climatic change. As such, the objective of the conference i.e., basically to seek effective ways of acquiring control of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, was achieved by the signing of the accord.
In effect, the decree bound all its signatories to exhibit responsibility in the absolute control of greenhouse emission by controlling anthropogenic activities that led to the same as a desperate measure of salvaging the earth from the potentially imminent extinction (COP-3, 1997).
All facts point out that the ranging debate on whether global warming is a myth or reality has been squarely won by global warming proponents. Ideally, the effects of global warming evidenced by drastic and live threatening variations in the global climatic conditions and increasing world temperatures are vivid and indisputable and provide ideal pedestals for proponents to place their argument for global warming.
Although there is little evidence by the proponents linking global warming with the anthropogenic sources i.e. human activities that leads to emissions of greenhouse gases chiefly carbon dioxide, the skeptics have adamantly denied the role of human beings in the same without even little evidence to substantiate their claim or to virtually detach human activities and emission of greenhouse gases from global warming.
All evidence points out that global warming is not a myth but an absolute reality, and just as proponents insist, the time for debate is long gone, and drastic measures need to be taken to control such activities as a last resort to save planet earth from potentially imminent extinction.
Archer, D. (2005). “Fate of fossil fuel CO2 in geologic time: Journal of Geophysical Research 110 (C9): p.1–6″
Christy, J., Spencer, R., & McNider, R. T. (1995). Reducing noise in the MSU daily lower tropospheric global temperature data set. J. Climate 8,888-896.
COP-3, 1997: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Conference of Parties – 3, Kyoto, Japan.
Hansen, J. (2006-01-12). Goddard Institute for Space Studies, GISS Surface Temperature Analysis, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
IPCC (1995). Summary for Policymakers: The Science of Climate Change. IPCC Working Group.
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PIRCS, (1998). Project to Intercompare Regional Climate Simulations, Iowa State University.
Proctor, J. (2009). Is Global Warming a Myth? How to respond to people who doubt the human impact on the climate: scientific American.
Wollstein, J. (2007). Global Warming: Myths and Reality, ISIL home.