Introduction and Claim
Climate change has occurred throughout the earth's history. Ice ages and other radical transformations to the earth's atmosphere have led to dramatic consequences of life on the planet. Ample scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring rapidly now, and that much of it has been driven by human activities. Moreover, climate change can have serious consequences for life on earth. According to NASA, the recent climate change pattern has been causing a wide range of problems ranging from ocean acidification to extreme weather events.
However, many people and especially those in the United States still believe that climate change is a hoax, an exaggerated claim, or a result of natural fluctuations in weather patterns. While natural fluctuations in climate and localized weather have occurred and still are occurring, there is virtually no disagreement among scientists, in a number of different fields of expertise, that the current climate change patterns are directly caused by human activity (Cook et al.). It is important to reach consensus on climate change because its effects are devastating, and denial prevents proactive solutions. Overwhelming scientific evidence proves climate change exists and is affecting human and non-human life.
Climate change is real, but nevertheless, it has become a divisive political issue. The political reasons for denying climate change range from short-range economic expediency to poor logic. Those who claim global warming is a hoax do so for various ideological, political, or economic reasons.
Global warming/climate change is not about belief, it is about recognizing factual evidence and acknowledging the truth. There are several components to the climate change debate. The first component is related to the simple existence of climate change. The second is what causes climate change, and the third is what to do about climate change, if anything.
Data on climate change is ample and includes information from all fields of science. The NASA earth sciences divisions outline the various parameters of climate change, which the organization claims is "unequivocal," (NASA). Since the Industrial Revolution, ocean waters have become thirty percent more acidic, due to increased levels of carbon dioxide making their way into the sea via processes of evaporation and precipitation (NASA). These rates of acidification are becoming more rapid. In fact, the rate at which the climate change is occurring is "unprecedented in the past 1300 years," (NASA).
Although 2014 may have been the "warmest year on record," the impact of climate change might not seem like global warming trends ("Climate Oscillations and the Global Warming Faux Pause"). Climate change affects each area of the world differently, and is not necessarily going to manifest uniformly across all geographic regions. It is important to remember that extreme cold can be a result of climate change, which is why the term "global warming" can be misleading and why it is important to debunk myths claiming that cold winters disprove global warming ("Climate Oscillations and the Global Warming Faux Pause"). In fact, a wide range of weather patterns including droughts and storms can be attributed to global shifts in atmospheric gases. NASA mentions decreased snow cover on mountains, extreme weather events like storms, glacial retreats, declining arctic sea ice, decreasing ice sheets, net global rises in temperatures, warming oceans, and rising sea levels as the most obvious and measurable effects of climate change.
Warrant and Backing
Because there is a scientific consensus, climate change cannot be denied except by denying science. As Cook et al. discovered in a thorough analysis of almost 12,000 scientific reports, there are virtually no scientists who reject anthropogenic global warming. Global warming is real; the debate is mainly about what to do about it. The mainstream media, distinct from scientific journals, has presented the views of those who believe that global warming may be a hoax. This does not mean that there is any validity to those claims. As Evans puts it, "There is no debate about the existence! The media has been partially responsible for implying there's a debate on climate change. There are great debates to be had on solutions," (Evans). McCright and Dunlop found that liberals and Democrats believe in scientific data, whereas Republicans and conservatives do not. The nature of this polarized debate has created roadblocks for public policy related to climate change.
Counterclaim and Rebuttal
Booker claims that climate data has been...
If Booker were correct, it would mean millions of scientists and their associates including scholars, laboratory technicians, and students, would be engaging in a massive conspiracy theory. The likelihood of such a grandiose operation is far less than the likelihood of climate change simply being an unfortunate truth.
As Leiserowitz points out, climate change denial is rooted in several overlapping sociological and psychological factors. One is the denial of responsibility on the part of the United States, which remains the world's top emitter of greenhouse gases (one fourth of all global emissions, at a rate twice that of other wealthy nations). Those that believe climate change is a hoax sometimes believe that climate change exists, but that nothing much should be done about it in order to preserve the status quo in the economy. Others believe that climate change is an outright lie and does not exist, yet another reason to perpetuate the status quo. The denial of climate change among ordinary Americans is due to a complex array of factors including the perception that climate change is not immediate or serious enough to be a great concern (Leiserowitz). It is highly likely the media has contributed to the culture of denial, by giving voice to those who deny scientific evidence (Evans).
Many who believe global warming is a hoax point to situations in which extreme cold exists, or simply claim that radical weather is due to natural changes to the earth. Indeed, the earth has and will always change. The "natural oscillations" in temperatures do in fact exist and may occasionally "mask some surface warming" thereby giving the illusion that climate change is not occurring ("Climate Oscillations and the Global Warming Faux Pause"). This does not mean climate change is a hoax; quite the contrary, it suggests that climate change is extremely complex as well as serious.
Climate change is not a hoax; it is a real occurrence that reveals the impact of human industry on naturally occurring atmospheric patterns. The impact of human activity on greenhouse gas emissions is itself indisputable, as are the repercussions of events like rising sea levels and ocean acidification. Because the impact of global warming is as potentially devastating as it is, some action needs to be taken. Action cannot be taken when a substantial cohort of Americans continue to deny scientific evidence in favor of conspiracy theories.
Booker, Christopher. "The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest science scandal ever." The Telegraph. 7 Feb, 2015. Retrieved online: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/environment/globalwarming/11395516/The-fiddling-with-temperature-data-is-the-biggest-science-scandal-ever.html
In this recent article, Booker claims that temperature readings have been falsified to give the impression that global warming exists. Likewise, Booker claims that the polar ice melting is not related to global warming. This source is therefore useful to offer support and warrants for the claim that global warming is a hoax.
"Climate Oscillations and the Global Warming Faux Pause." Real Climate. Retrieved online: http://www.realclimate.org/
This article helps to debunk some of the common misperceptions about climate change. The author offers ample data showing why some climate change models have oscillated, and why climate change is taking place. This article shows how modeling is important and how the media needs to better understand how to interpret such models.
Cook, John, et al. "Quantifying the Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming in the Scientific Literature." Environmental Research Letters, Volume 8.
This research examined almost twelve thousand individual scientific reports related to climate change. The researchers found that there are virtually no scientists who reject anthropogenic global warming.
Evans, Greg. "Exposing the Doubt-Mongers Trying to Convince You Climate Change Isn't Real." Newsweek. 1 Mar, 2015. Retrieved online: http://www.newsweek.com/exposing-doubt-mongers-trying-convince-you-climate-change-isnt-real-310372
Evans has recently released a documentary on the topic of climate change denial. This article reveals his point-of-view, which is that fear-mongering and doubt-creation is akin to the way Big Tobacco duped the public.
Leiserowitz, Anthony. "Communicating the Risks of Global Warming." Chapter 2 in Creating a Climate for Change. Retrieved online: http://environment.yale.edu/climate-communication/files/ClimateRiskCommunication.pdf
This article is helpful in revealing some of the reasons Americans do not perceive climate change as being a problem, and exposes public misperceptions. It is well-researched and well-documented.
McCright, Aaron and Dunlap, Riley E. "The Politicization of Climate Change and Polarization in the American Public's Views on Global Warming, 2001-2010." The Sociological Quarterly, Vol. 52, No. 2, pp. 155-194, Spring 2011.
This article discusses the political nature of the climate change debate, highlighting data showing that liberals and Democrats believe in scientific data, whereas Republicans and conservatives do not. The nature of this polarized debate has created roadblocks for public…
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