Are humans responsible for global warming?

Human contribution to global warming is negligible

By Aaron Burkhart

The fact is, temperature fluctuations – both short term and long term – are a natural part of the Earth’s climate. In the ’60s and ’70s, many scientists were warning of global cooling, as temperatures had dipped since the ’40s. Later, when temperatures started to rise, the impending disaster of global warming became the new threat scientists would need millions of dollars to fight.

It turns out that fluctuations in temperature occur in cycles – daily, seasonal, yearly, etc. – and the Earth is just reaching the higher points of a warming cycle that restarts after every ice age. Proponents of global warming acknowledge this, but claim that increased emission of greenhouse gases by humans is somehow speeding up the process. In other words, they admit it will still happen no matter what we do.

And what are greenhouse gasses? Mainly water vapor, responsible more than any other greenhouse gas for the majority of warming. And as temperatures rise, glacial ice melts; as water surface area grows, water evaporation increases; as water vapor increases, so does the temperature. It’s part of the positive feedback that’s been going on since the end of the last ice age.

Carbon dioxide is cited as the biggest greenhouse gas humans are contributing to, which is true. However, volcanic activity – above and below the water – puts out tremendous amounts of CO2 as well, some figures placing volcanic emissions as greater than the human contribution. But it might not even matter: the causal effect of CO2 leading to higher temperatures has never been proven. Ice core samples show CO2 levels rising and falling with each ice age, but that’s a correlation, not causation. In fact, temperatures have continued to fluctuate even as CO2 emissions rose steadily. However, studies of the sun show an almost exact correlation between solar activity and Earth’s temperature over the last 100 years. It certainly is assumed by the majority of scientists that CO2 causes warming, and maybe it’s that pre-assumption that led to research with a foregone conclusion.

Scientists who risk their careers to publish evidence contrary to global warming call it a “hoax,” “swindle” or other deception. While that may seem unlikely, millions upon millions of research dollars are at stake, and how else are climatologists going to feel like their work means anything than to say their research will save the world? Those scientists aren’t necessarily trying to fool anyone, but by jumping on the bandwagon of assumptions, they created this theory that’s becoming too ingrained to question. Or maybe it is a conspiracy – not to get too crazy, but it’s pretty convenient that developing countries are being told they have to limit industrialization to save the planet, while the Western world may only have to consider – eventually, maybe – switching to hybrid cars.

There’s no question that pollution is bad, and the industrialized world needs to better limit and clean its waste, but saying we’re going to cause the world to end because of mass transportation is nothing more than lazy science.

Humans are the cause, and solution, of warming

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By Teresa Combs

Anyone who’s taken an introductory astronomy course has an understanding of global warming, how it affects multiple planets in our solar system, and that it’s completely normal.

In case you forgot to sign up for one of those fabulous courses, here’s the rundown: Infrared radiation warms a planet, but a planet needs to reflect off what it can’t absorb. Depending on the thickness of the atmosphere, and its gaseous components will affect how much heat can actually escape.

Many naturally occurring gases reside in our atmosphere and have been able to continue the normal greenhouse effect. However, introducing unnatural compounds undoubtedly has unnatural effects.

Insert humans, and, more importantly, industrialization, into the picture. Ice core samples have shown there to be a startling increase of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere over hundreds of thousands of years. One defining point? The year 1750.

There has been no empirical evidence that can state the Earth has seen levels this alarming in any given point of life’s existence here. It would be stupid to deny global warming and its importance to sustaining Earth’s dynamic – but relatively stable – weather. It would take a new kind of idiocy to deny that humans have nothing to do with it.

What our exhaust and our wastes do to the atmosphere is not like what any other planet has experienced. Our species, the only intelligent life in this universe (for now) has a hand in how our planet functions. Contribution of billions of peoples’ trash and pollutants has resulted in premature breakage of arctic ice, smog and extinction of other species.

Carbon dioxide has increased since 1750 by 38 percent, while methane has increased by 149 percent. It is unlikely that just a million cows in the Midwest are responsible for the latter. Our species has been here barely any length of time in the grander scheme of things.

It is our responsibility to take care of our planet, and we are failing. We can’t be wasteful and destroy nature, expel pollutants into the water and the air and destroy species that are part of the ecosystem. Even Stephen Hawking, a treasured and intelligent physicist, warns us of our crime. He fears that we will have to seek other homes soon, because of possibly irreversible damage we have incurred here. What we have done is not normal for our planet.

Every little bit counts, and every little bit of excess carbon dioxide that burns its way into our atmosphere counts as well. You can take the initiative. Educate yourself by visiting informative sites such as stopglobalwarming.org, reduce your waste, avoid uses of harmful products and chemicals, and let your voice be heard.

What you do right now may not have an immediate effect in our time, but if we can right our ways and help our planet, we can hope that some of it will still be here for future generations.