The Global Warming Controversy Essay

Words: 1825
Pages: 8

Global warming is one of the biggest social topics of our time. In addition, it is one of the most hotly contested. Nearly everyone believes in the greenhouse effect, which basically means that the sun's warmth is trapped in the Earth's atmosphere by the Earth's natural gasses such as: methane, ozone, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, water vapor, and chlorofluorocarbons. Without the greenhouse effect, we would not be able to live on Earth because it would be too cold. The concept of global warming, however, is not as widely accepted. Scientists on all sides of the argument admit that it is only a theory. There are many viewpoints on global warming. The two major arguments are: (1) Global warming is a problem and is caused by humans, and (2) Global warming is not a problem and is not caused by humans.

HISTORY OF GLOBAL WARMINGIn 1896 a Swedish chemist by the name of Svante Arrhenius predicted that if CO2 levels doubled, the average global temperature would rise by 6°C. In the 1950's, Charles Keeling monitored CO2 levels on a mountain in Hawaii. He found that the CO2 levels had risen by 10%. By 1990 CO2 levels had risen by 20%. At this rate, CO2 levels will double by 2050 (Bilger 14).

Harvey 2Scientists were not concerned about global warming before Keeling because they knew that natural gases were absorbed by our oceans, soils, and vegetation.

Oceanographer Roger Reville found that oceans could only absorb some of the CO2 in our atmosphere. So by the 1960's and 1970's global warming became a concern (Bilger 15).

In the early 1970's, the Earth had become unusually cool in temperature. Scientists believed that we were entering into another ice age. They believed that air pollution was blocking the sunlight and cooling the Earth. Nigel Calder said, "The threat of a New Ice Age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind" (Horner 55). By the 1980's, this theory had been proven false, and many people thought that the scientists were only trying to scare us so that they could get more money for research.

In 1988 scientist James Hansen (who is considered the father of global warming) gave a presentation on his beliefs to the U.S. Senate. James Hansen told them that he believed that the Earth was getting warmer, and that humans could be contributing to it through the greenhouse effect. "So with 99% confidence we can state that the warming during this time period is a real warming trend" (Williams 7). No one, even his fellow scientists took him seriously.

CONTROVERSIESScientists accept the greenhouse effect as fact, but what they don't understand is how humans contribute to it. Some scientists believe that we contribute dangerous amounts of CO2 to the greenhouse gasses, making our planet hotter and hotter to the pointHarvey 3that we won't be able to live on the Earth anymore unless we do something about it. Other Scientists say that global warming is a natural thing that the Earth has done in it's cycles for millions of years, and humans could not contribute enough CO2 to change the natural cycle. Both sides have evidence showing that their beliefs are right.

Global Warming is a Problem and it is Caused by HumansThe National Academy of Sciences did a report on climate change for President George W. Bush in 2001. Before this study many of them were skeptical about global warming. After the study, they came to the conclusion that "Temperatures are rising because of human activities" (Romm 12).

China, the second largest emitter of CO2 in the world, is a rapidly growing industrial society and its CO2 levels are growing at an incredible rate. The U.S. is the largest emitter of CO2 in the world and it appears that we are not trying to stop or slow down at all. The Bush administration continues to fight against mandatory action to cut down on greenhouse gases because they feel that it will adversely affect our economy (Romm 100).

There are many greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.