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Point-Counterpoint: Global Warming

J.B. Sivanich

(Brent Schwert)

Ever since Al Gore’s Oscar-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” opened last summer, global warming has been cast onto the public stage, causing an almost religion-like phenomenon receiving quite a reaction. However, not all of the evidence is clear and/or definite, and both sides have clearly misrepresented facts. In the past month, the global warming debate has risen to a deafening level, with more emotions being displayed than facts.
In response to “An Inconvenient Truth,” last month BBC4 aired the “The Great Global Warming Swindle,” a documentary written and directed by independent filmmaker Martin Durkin – which can be viewed in full on Google video – creating a sea of controversy and discussion. However their instrumental argument – the claim by Danish atmospheric physicist Eigil Friis-Christensen, that sun variations are the primary cause for global warming – has already been scientifically debunked.
But the film brings up some pieces of evidence ignored by global warming activists. Humans, by means of factories, cars and overpopulation, only produce a fraction of all the CO2 in the atmosphere – roughly three percent. Whereas animals and bacteria produce 20 times more CO2, and even more CO2 than that is produced by the decaying of leaves during autumn.
However, the most comprehensive report on the subject issued by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, asserted that it is 90 percent likely that 50 percent of the “observed increases in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century are very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”
On the other hand, this report states that sea levels will rise in between 1.5 to five feet during the 21st century, which contradicts Al Gore’s claim of a possible sea rise of 20 feet.
Though the IPCC report is by far the most current and definitive of its kind, there have been accusations of a lack of supporting data, emphasis on certain data, manipulation of other data, and data influenced by preconceived notions and political agendas.
Conclusions on global warming are far from definite; only more advanced studies will show the real consequences of human pollution and if restrictions on carbon emissions will be effective. It is still a valid debate over whether recent warming is within natural fluctuation, unaffected by increased human activity. Modern science is far from perfect and climate models are highly unreliable.
Before a proper consensus can be reached and proper action taken, more comprehensive studies must be made, because at this point we do not have sufficient information. Until we do, the public and politicians should let scientists go about their jobs without interference and/or politic pressure. This would promote scientific debate instead of stifling it.