Defintion: Global warming is that the earth’s temperature is rising as a result from human actions. We have changed the natural cycle by our actions, and have helped to raise the temperature by many ways, including greenhouse gases such as CO2.
Climate is complex, but can said on a broad scale to be influenced by 5 interrelating factors – the atmosphere (air), the lithosphere (solid earth), hydrosphere (liquid and water), the cryosphere (ice and snow) and the biosphere (totality of life on earth.) The sun has an influence on all these factors, which is how our climate is shaped. However, humans have managed to alter all these 5 factors as well, by means of soil erosion and urbanisation, land clearing, overuse of resources, pollution of resources, altering the environment, and culling flora and fauna and introducing species.
The atmosphere is considered the most important out of these 5 factors because it is the most fragile and influential, and it is the one we are changing the most – from our greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, etc. and it is the one that is affected by all of our actions.
You might argue that the warming of the planet is all natural, and yes there have been past risings in the past few billion years that earth has been around, it is impossible to say that the temperature now has risen suddenly and it has never risen before – but what we are proving is that HUMANS have made the temperature warmer than NATURAL and above the average warming cycle. Yes, there was a Medieval Warm Period, yes, there was a Little Ice Age – but they were many of the GRADUAL ups and downs. Yet, all of a sudden, the earth’s temperature has risen STEEPLY, and although some climate changes can be sudden, others gradual, this steepness does NOT coincide with the earth’s natural temperature average, range or even its rough cycle. The rise in temperature ever since our greenhouse gas emissions have started to rise has gone steeply up, to steeply and too dramatic to be natural, and it is just too coincidental for all our alterations to occur and the earth to not respond. The warming trend is much stronger than it would have been without human interference.
Also, cities are called heat islands, as their temperature is actually a few degrees higher than their surroundings. This is due to being made with asphalt and other materials with low albedo (reflectivity.) Industrial activity, air conditioning (heat is expelled on the outside of buildings) and vehicle exhausts also generate heat. Because drainage systems are underground, the ground is dry so less surface moisture exists to moderate the heat. Urban heat islands also effect precipitation, increase convection, rising air contributes to cloud cover. This is just one example of how humans can alter their temperature around them unwillingly, and how the atmosphere can become warmer from urbanisation – which is on the rapid increase – more and more people are starting to live in cities. What is this going to do to the heat?
Finally, there is much evidence for rising temperatures, which you all probably know about, BUT let me tell you about the unnatural conditions of these effects. Driven by temperature change, birds are laying eggs and migrating 5 days earlier than in the entire century. Trees are budding earlier, octopuses have changed their spawning patterns, butterflies are appearing earlier, and plants are flowering earlier. Temperatures alter the gender of reptiles such as turtles, which are now increasing in the female to male ratio as females are born in warmer temperatures. Many once permanent trees are now being killed by species such as bark beetles spreading due to warmer regions. Ice and glaciers are melting, permafrost (which used to be stable for 1000 years) is thawing, ice sheets are diminishing, you have probably heard of all these. What is not natural is that many species that are suddenly changing used to be stable for a very long period of time.
Global warming is real. There is proof, there is evidence, so why do people not believe in it, and why are they wrong? Firstly, there is the argument of sceptics that greenhouse gases such as CO2 are minor and cannot change the climate. Well, 100 – 50 million years ago, it was discovered that there was a past global warming. The Arctic Ocean peaked at 23’C, and average land temperatures were 40’C. This was found out from many fossils, ice and data records. So how did the planet get so warm? Scientists predicted that there was no extreme change in sun-spots, and Antarctica back then was roughly in the same position as it was now - at the pole, this was long after continental drift. Using sea bed excavations along with fossil leaves, scientists were able to determine that it was the alarmingly high carbon dioxide level that had resulted in high temperature. The earth was a sweltering greenhouse, and there was high CO2 because of very high volcanic activity. This means that there IS a link between CO2 levels and temperature. Now we have much less volcanoes than there were back then, but there are masses of CO2 being pumped into the air right now – by humans. Then sceptics argue about the insignificance of humans. You might say that humans are not the factor for the rising temperatures; we are so small and insignificant that it is impossible for us to change the climate. However, if we are able to cause a giant hole in the ozone layer, cause football fields of natural forest to be eliminated every minute, you’d think we’d be able to alter something as fragile as the atmosphere. You might think the entire global warming thing is driven entirely by money and politics, bla bla bla... well, when the theory was first proposed and evidence started to build up, it was ACCEPTED as fact. Then as the news started to filter out, people became dubious because they didn’t want to believe in it.
The fact is the majority of people who say global warming is real are just people who don’t want us all to die, or the entire ecosystem to collapse. With the help of the media, sceptics manage to make environmentalists as anti-development (because they want to use the new renewable technology and stop us using the old dirty power) and hypocritical people who are basically a bunch of mad-hatters. I’m sorry, but this is a major exaggeration! Oh, and do you know how many environmentalist groups are NOT-FOR-PROFIT? And that many of these environmental groups are driven by VOLOUNTEERS?!! Yes, you’ve heard of all these groups, and so many of them are created to protect the planet, not make money. So how can you say that global warming is driven by money and jobs? But sceptics don’t mention why they are sceptical in the first place. Who is bothering to say “no, it’s false”? Well, it wouldn’t be massive coal, oil or gas companies would it? It wouldn’t be people who want to use the cheaper, readily available power? It wouldn’t be people who invest in the economy, or large industrial corporations? Because there’s only a few hundred thousand jobs dependant on it and a whole lot of money invested in it, so surely one wouldn’t care if their sales dropped? Hhhmm…
So, how is the planet’s temperature rising, and how have humans helped it to rise? Carbon dioxide has increased by 31% since pre-industrial times, and is higher than it has been in the past 20 million years. And greenhouse gases are ALL at their highest recorded levels – not just carbon dioxide. We know about fossil fuels being burnt, but there are a number of others. When forests are burned to clear land, CO2 is not only emitted from the actual burning of it, but more is let out because all the CO2 stored by the trees is released. To make matters worse, the decomposing bacteria of decaying matter gives out some more CO2 and on top of that, the black land gives out more you guessed it, CO2 because of heat escaping from the ground.
Oh, and once we’ve burned the forests down, we pump nitrous oxide, which is another greenhouse gas (and a very powerful one at that) when farmers use nitrogen based fertilizers. And then methane is released (another greenhouse gas) by rice paddies and cattle, which have increased as food sources as the size of the population increases. Plus, permafrost is thawing rapidly, and the un-decayed matter that has been locked in the frozen soil decomposes and releases large amounts of methane. Then there’s water vapour. Because of all these greenhouse gases, the temperature is obviously warmer, which results in more evaporation and radical water cycles, or high humidity and warm temperatures, which ends up with water vapour flying up to join the already high levels of greenhouse gases.
Groups of Arctic people, natives, have herded reindeer since 2000BCE, and have noticed that the health of their livestock is gradually diminishing, as reindeer cannot adapt to warmer weather. In Alaska, Yup’ik and Inupait people who have stayed steady for many thousands of years have already seen changes in the location, migration patterns, and numbers of some wildlife species. Plants and berries are not as abundant and hunting is becoming more dangerous as the ice has thinned. Residents are finding food rotting in ice cellars that used to preserve stocks reliably. There is much evidence for global warming – evidence from not only expert scientists, but conservationists, meteorologists, native people, and geographical teams. We’ve seen the evidence of a changing climate such as animals are changing to try to adapt to a different climate.
There is proof that since the mid-1800s, the temperature has been gradually rising, along with greenhouse gas levels. There HAVE been fluctuations in temperature, such as in the 1940s, but then the cool period was replaced by a warming trend that has continued until the present day. If historical data shows a rising temperature since industrial activity, and climate models predict a continual rising temperature unless we do something about it, then what does this say for global warming? Scientists, even global warming sceptics, have not been able to explain how recent climate changes could have occurred without significant humans influences. There IS a link between CO2 and rising temperatures, and to add on to it we are increasing all greenhouse gases anyway. There has been a temperature rise, and we are seeing the changes from it.
The opposition mentioned how the documentary An Inconvenient Truth is inaccurate. Whether it’s accurate or not, please note that you cannot use one documentary’s so-called inaccuracy to judge whether global warming is real or not. (And, by the way, it is pretty accurate.) Also, all the scepticism that surrounds Al Gore is because he won the Nobel Peace prize and is internationally recognised, so you’d think he would be good game for critics.
The opposition mentioned The Great Global Warming Swindle. Let me say that you cannot use one extremely controversial documentary to claim that global warming is real.
Also, let me add the maker of this film has previously been charged of fabricating data, and two people (Carl Wunsch and Eigil Friis-Christensen) said their results and comments were misused in the program.
Many scientists and organisations have also complained about issues including a graph with an incorrect time axis, and misrepresentation of facts. Also, Tim Ball was misidentified in the film as ‘Professor from the Department of Climatology’ – he left his university in 1996, and it never had a climatology department. Oh and apparently the maker of the program did all this purposely.
You may think because CO2 is in such small amounts, it cannot possibly alter the temperature. Firstly, we have not been talking just about CO2. We have been talking about all greenhouse gases, and all have increased. Oh, and if it were not for greenhouse gases, we wouldn’t be able to live here, so they must have some significance on the planet! Also, there has been a past global warming, and it was caused by high CO2 levels from volcanic activity.
You may think there has been warming in the past, so global warming is not happening. Yes, there has been warming in the past – I mean it’s impossible for the earth’s climate to have not changed in it’s lifetime of a few million years, but what we are proving here is whether or not this warming trend since the mid-1800s has been caused by greenhouse gas emissions from humans. And it has.
You may think that other factors such as volcanoes are responsible for the output of CO2, not humans. Volcanic output of Co2 from Volcano's is 200-240 million tons per year human CO2 output is currently 27 BILLION tons, and only going up. In other words it takes volcanoes 112-135 years to put out the same amount of Co2 we are currently producing in 1 year.
Humans are not the only factor of global warming. We are not saying that humans are the only sole reason that the temperature is rising. We are saying that humans with their emissions of greenhouse gases are managing to enhance and quicken up the warming of the planet to a state which is not natural – the temperature would have been lower if it were not for humans. We are saying that it is impossible to say that humans are not contributing to this change of climate.
You may think global warming is driven by politics, money, and jobs. Firstly, there are many environmental groups out there who are not for profit, and are run by volunteers. Secondly, what are sceptics driven by? It couldn’t be the fact that they may be large investors or members of giant oil and gas corporations!
You may think it will be extremely hard to prevent global warming if it is real, and we are wasting our money. This is irrelevant because we are arguing whether global warming is real or not, not how hard or easy it is to prevent it. And by the way, we have the money to adapt to climate change, and our technology has developed enough for us to ease the burden on our planet anyway.
You may think the oceans are the reasons for the fluctuations of carbon dioxide in the air. However, the levels of carbon dioxide are much higher than they would have been if it were just an ocean carbon cycle.
You may say how is it possible to say global warming is real? Well, we say it’s real because it IS real. There is evidence for it, and many people are finally accepting that it’s real. You have to admit, it is a bit odd for us humans to have done SO MUCH to alter this planet and not expect anything to happen because of it.
Where are our sources coming from? Our ‘sources’ came from media reports, reliable internet sites, and books. I, for one used a book named “Climate”. It was written by marine biologists, climate scientists, professors of research, and was contributed to by NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, many chief scientists, the UN Environment Program, the Educational Global Climate Model, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, IPCC, National Geographic Society, British Antarctic Survey, the Science Photo Library, and National Snow and Ice Data Centre, to name a few.