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Global Warming -- it Is Authentic, but Why So Many Skeptics?
The phrases "global warming" and "climate change" have become household words over the past twenty years or so, and given the vast amount of discussion and research, and the clear signs that the planet is hearing up, an alert citizen can safety predict that this topic will become even more prominent in American society. What are the latest results from scientific studies? How are businesses responding to the challenges that are present today and certainly are on the horizon for the coming years? How are poor people faring -- or how will they fare -- as the climate heats up, the seas rise, and powerful weather systems create devastation in many parts of the globe? And why are so many people, in particular conservatives, in denial about the fact that the climate is heating up? What are the arguments from those that dispute the science of global warming? This paper presents scholarly research articles that delve into these issues and a number of other aspects of the global climate change phenomenon.
The Literature -- Updated Information on Global Warming
A peer-reviewed research article in the journal Progress in Physical Geography provides a review of key points that have been released (by scientists) to the public subsequent to the most recent report (The Fourth Assessment Report -- AR4) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC has played a "major role in framing the current understanding of likely impacts" from global climate change (Gosling, et al., 2011, p. 444).
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an international organization of scientists -- created by the United Nations' Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization -- that, over the past twenty plus years, has conducted to empirical research on climate change. The IPCC is just one among other science-based organizations studying the warming climate worldwide, but the IPCC is generally viewed as the most respected organization doing this valuable research.
The IPCC recruits the talent and experience of scientists from over 190 countries, and thousands of researchers with specific skills record temperature changes in the air, on land, and in the plant's waters. In its "First Assessment Report" (issued in 1990) the IPCC asserted that while there is a "natural greenhouse effect" which keeps the earth "warmer than it would otherwise be," emissions produced by human activities "…are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and nitrous oxide." Hence, in its first report the IPCC was establishing the science-based facts of climate change in the world, and it has continued to add data and verify the causes for the myriad weather-related changes the planet is going through.
In the "Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007," the IPCC states that "…Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is not evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level" (IPCC, 2007).
Gosling points to a study that predicts the harm to coastal regions of the planet if the amount of sea level rise (SLR) is 34 centimeters; up to 100 million people would be flooded out of their homes in that event (Gosling, 445).
If the SLR is up to 1 meter -- which some studies suggest is quite possible given the rapid melting of Arctic sea ice -- about 84 developing countries would be negatively impacted and nearly 2% of the wetlands on the planet would be lost. Additionally 56 million people would not only be flooded but would lose their homes (Gosling, 446). There is an ongoing threat to fishes and other sea life (including coral) because of the acidification of the ocean, Gosling continues (447). Oceans are absorbing the C02 (greenhouse gases) at high levels and that is causing a reduction in pH balance, posing danger to aquatic life. Ocean acidification (OA) "…can impair fish hearing and balance, sense of smell and sensing of predators," Gosling reports based on the recent literature.
It is also known that OA has a negative affect on "…commercially valuable calcifying organisms such as mussels and oysters," and this impacts Pacific cultures (in small island states) that have limited agriculture and depend on the sea for income and protein (Gosling, 447). Plant and animal species are threatened, as well, Gosling continues: about "…20-30% of plant and animal species assessed so far…are likely to be at increasingly high risk of extinction" as global mean temperatures exceed c to 3( above pre-industrial levels (448).
More people will have to deal with "water scarcity" as the climate continues to warm up; in fact when the climate warms by 2( Centigrade, about 59% of the world's population could be facing "blue water shortage" (irrigation water for agriculture), Gosling explains (450). As to agriculture, the rising temperatures are expected to bring "extreme events" (huge tornados, massively powerful hurricanes and cyclones that destroy crops) as well as additional "pests, weeds and diseases" (Gosling, 452). Moreover, as to the impact on humans from additional pests, Gosling asserts that with a 2(C rise in global temperatures, an estimate 5 to 6 billion people "…will be at risk for dengue [fever]," spread by mosquitoes (453).
Are hurricanes more intense and more destructive due to the warming oceans, the drivers of these huge storms? Scientists from the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia institute of Technology and from the National Center for Atmospheric Research published a piece in the American Meteorological Society that separates the "muddied" public denial from the empirical science. The authors, professors, scientists and researchers, put forth hypotheses followed by rebuttals, and in the end their hypotheses have more credibility and science-based data than the rebuttals; some of the rebuttals to their data were made by known "anti-global warming" individuals. The rebuttals fall into categories the authors call "logical fallacies." As to the articles' verified hypotheses: a) the frequency "…of the most intense hurricanes is increasing globally"; b) as the sea surface temperatures (SST) increase, so does the intensity of tropical hurricanes; and c) global tropical sea surface temperatures increase as a direct result of greenhouse warming (Curry, et al., 2006).
An article in the peer-reviewed journal Science (Webster, et al., 2005, p. 1844) pointed out that over the 35 years up until 2005, there have been observed "A large increase…in the number and proportion of hurricanes reaching categories 4 and 5." Webster and colleagues examined all of the tropical cyclones and hurricanes and determined that the warming of the SST has led to stronger hurricanes and cyclones. While the research did not report an "increase in the numbers of storms" due to the warming of sea surface temperatures, the research did show "a substantial change in the intensity distribution of hurricanes globally" (Webster, 1846).
The research showed no increase in the category 1 hurricanes; it showed "small" increased in the number of category 2 and 3 hurricanes; but "…hurricanes in the strongest categories (4 & 5) have almost doubled in number" in the ten years leading up to 2005 (Webster, 1846). In fact, in the 1970s there were 50 category 4 and 5 hurricanes, but in the ten years preceding 2005 there were 90 hurricanes in the strongest categories (Webster, 1846).
Meanwhile, the IPCC sent out a press release in March, 2012, which updates the data provided in the Fourth Assessment Report in 2007. The IPCC expressed "medium confidence" that there will be, due to global climate change, "an observed increase in the length or number of warm spells or heat waves" in a number of regions of the planet (Lynn, 2012). The IPCC also expressed that there will be "a likely increase in frequency of heavy precipitation events" in comparison with what rainfall and other precipitation events are the normal and expected events in some areas -- particularly in "high latitudes and tropical regions" (Lynn, p. 2).
The 2012 IPCC update also expressed "medium confidence" that there will be an "increase in duration and intensity of droughts… [in] southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, central Europe, central North America, Central America and Mexico, northeast Brazil and southern Africa" (Lynn, p. 2). The press release is just a summary of the 592-page report titled "Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate change Adaptation (SREX)" (Lynn, p. 1). Thousands of scientific studies are contained in the report, which was compiled by 220 scientists from 62 nations "…for which 18,784 outside expert and government review comments were received in the three rounds of formal review" (Lynn, p. 3).
Impact of Climate Change on the World's Poorest Nations
An article in the peer-reviewed Worldviews journal reports that "…the global poor will face the most devastating effects of global climate change…and it will be the poorest regions of the world with the least amount of resources to mitigate those negative effects" (Mastaler, 2011, p. 66). In Africa, for example, the IPCC predicts…[continue]
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