It’s confusing. On the one hand, we are told that man’s activities are increasing the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is leading to dangerous levels of global warming. On the other hand, we are told global warming is a hoax and former US presidential hopeful Al Gore is a phony.
What to believe?
Given the severity of the charge that air pollution could lead to a drastic rise of several degrees centigrade that could lead to massive changes around the world, including sea level rise, wild weather, droughts and flooding, the debate has at times bordered on farce and has become embroiled in politics. This is a pity.
Let’s come down to Earth
After over a decade of controversy, a level of consensus is emerging about the effect of man’s activities on the Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists who support the charge that the rise in carbon dioxide emissions is causing atmospheric changes now far outnumber the skeptics. Even some prominent skeptics have turned.
Part of the problem revolves around the phrase, “global warming.” The claim is that over the last century, particularly the last 50 years, average global temperatures have been rising. This is well described in the video below by David Attenborough—a naturalist who for a while was skeptical about the global warming claim. The difficulty has been that there have been bad winters during the last few decades, making some people question the hypothesis that increased man-made gases are heating up the planet. At one point, back in the 1970s, there was even speculation that the Earth was headed for another Ice Age.
It is important to keep an eye on the overall trend—an increase in global temperature. What appears to be happening according to scientists is an increase in these gases is causing climate change, that is leading to weather extremes including droughts, flooding, hurricanes, even severe winters. But the underlying trend is a temperature rise.
Arctic adventurer Pen Hadow can tell us that walking to the North Pole is no longer just a walk as it used to be. He had to swim sections, pulling his buoyant sledge behind him. The Arctic ice is melting at an alarming rate, even quicker than some scientists predicted. Ships are now navigating the Northwest Passage, previously blocked by ice. Polar bears are drowning. Within decades, the Arctic ice cap may disappear in summer. Particularly worrying is the thick ice that covers much of Greenland, which is melting fast. This and the other ice melts are said to be leading to significant changes in the oceans and the ocean currents.
Sea levels are rising, with some islands in the Pacific destined to disappear under the water in decades. Coastal cities around the world face the threat of gradual sea rise. Cities such as Florida, Calcutta or Bangkok would have difficulty handling a rise of two meters or more.
One of the biggest challenges will be the temperature rise that threatens agricultural land as more areas turn to desert and scrub, made worse by increasing water shortages. As the world demand for food continues to rise with the rising world population, and with an increased demand for food products that use large quantities of water—such as meat—the planet will be unable to feed its people.
Debate is important. But it is surprising that the skeptics are still being listened to seriously.
One person worth listening to is Greg Craven who shot to notoriety with one of the most viewed YouTube videos on the planet. His argument is worth considering carefully.
Greg Craven and the Most Terrifying Video You Will Ever See
David Attenborough: The Truth About Climate Change
Arctic ice change – World Wildlife Fund
Climate Change: The Evidence and Our Options – Keeling Lecture
5 Degrees: Civilization Collapses – National Geographic’s doomsday warning
Supermodels Take it Off for Climate Change
Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth – Watch it here.