The Long Running Anthropogenic Climate Change Dispute by akt14893


									 The Long Running Anthropogenic Climate
            Change Dispute

                                     Kyle Prowse

A Historical Overview                           atmospheric carbon dioxide
                                                concentrations on Mauna Loa, Hawaii,
         Anthropogenic climate change           in 1958. He found that the atmospheric
refers to the theory that the Global            carbon dioxide concentrations were
climate is affected by human emissions          steadily increasing. In 1963, the United
(most notably CO2 emissions). In                States of America’s National Science
particular, it refers to the perceived          Foundation released a greenhouse
increase in the rate of increase in             effect warning based on Dr Keeling’s
global temperature since 1970. The              findings. This proposed the idea of
initial provocation of the                      anthropogenic climate change,
anthropogenic                                                     claiming that human
climate change                                                    emissions, most
theory was polar ice                                              notably CO2 were
core sample                                                       (and still are)
research along with                                               collecting in the
a recorded increase                                               ozone layer, causing
in atmospheric                                                    more of the heat
carbon dioxide                                                    radiated from the sun
concentrations.                                                   to be ‘trapped’ here
Polar ice core                                                    on Earth (Keeling,
samples were                                                      Tellus, 12(2)).
initially analysed in                                               The Arising
1958. Ice core                                                      Controversy
samples have
‘trapped’ air                                                       The number of
bubbles, which
allow an estimation        Figure 1. An ice core sample.            anthropogenic climate
of the global              These are extracted and analysed         change sceptics is
temperature, as well       in order to deduce the surface           growing in the public
as the surface gas         temperature and hence estimate           eye. These sceptics
composition, at the        global climatic conditions, as well      claim that the sun is
period time that the       as the surface gas composition at        responsible for the
ice condensed.             the time of ice formation.               perceived increase in
Samples have               Source: global temperature
continued to be
                                                 throughout the 20th century. Sceptics
extracted and analysed from the polar
                                                 claim that the Earth’s global
ice caps in Greenland, Alaska, Russia
                                                 temperature has corresponded with
and mountain top areas such as the
                                                 solar flare activity on the sun, rather
Himalayas since 1958 (Neftel et al.,
                                                 than human emissions, from 1856 to
Nature, 315). Dr Charles David
                                                 2002 (Neftel et al., Nature, 315). This
Keeling also began studying
has been reproduced in major claims        Anthropogenic climate change sceptics
against anthropogenic climate change       do not deny that an increase in CO2
ever since. Anthropogenic climate          and other human emissions (most
change supporters argue that solar flare   notably water vapour) can cause an
activity cannot account for the total      increase in global temperatures
global temperature rise since 1970.        through the greenhouse effect,
Although sceptics may claim                however they suggest that the amount
otherwise, the global temperature has      of CO2 emissions, although ever rising,
risen far beyond what can be predicted     are insufficient to affect the global
by solar variability (Lean and Rind,       temperature. They also argue that if
Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-          global warming is due to the
Terrestrial Physics, 61(1-2)).             greenhouse effect, ‘hot spots’ or places
                                           of higher temperature in the
The most renowned pro anthropogenic        atmosphere would be created where
climate change documentary of today        the sun’s radiant heat is redirected
is arguably Al Gore’s An Inconvenient      back to Earth. These hotspots are
Truth. This claims that ice core           predicted to occur over the tropics,
samples show that global temperature       however several years of searching for
corresponds with atmospheric CO2           a hotspot has yielded no conclusive
levels at the sample time, implying that   results. No hotspot can be found. To
one of the major causes of global          the implication that anthropogenic
temperature change is atmospheric          climate change sceptics are funded by
CO2 concentration and that human           oil companies and hence bias, sceptics
emissions are increasing the CO2           argue that this is a lie and not all
levels, leading to an impeding and         climate change sceptics are funded by
possibly devastating increase in the       oil companies and that anthropogenic
world’s temperature. He also accuses       climate change supporters, including
the majority of anthropogenic climate      Al Gore himself, continue to assert that
change sceptics of being funded by the     human emissions are responsible for
big oil companies, and hence bias to       recent climate change in order to
the research. However, the CO2             obtain research grants and other
concentration calculated from ice core     financial benefits.
samples has been found to ‘follow’ the
global temperature increase by             The Bottom Line
approximately 600 ± 200 years
(Fischer et al., Science, 283(5408)).      Although the anthropogenic climate
This has been used by anthropogenic        change debate has been a continuous
climate change sceptics to suggest that    barrage of arguments and accusations,
climate change affects CO2                 the fact is that something other than the
concentration, rather than CO2             sun is responsible for the recent
concentrations being responsible for       increase in global temperature since
global climate change. However the         1970. Although sceptics argue that this
fact that global temperature has raised    isn’t due to human emissions, there is
beyond the expected, when only             some cause other than the sun causing
considering the sun’s activity, still      global warming. Although ice core
remains, meaning that something other      records indicate that atmospheric CO2
than the sun is responsible for global     levels follow the global temperature
warming since 1970.                        change by 800 years throughout
                                           history, they do not deny the fact that
                                           an increase in atmospheric CO2 can
cause heat to be trapped on the Earth       of the American Meteorological
due to the greenhouse effect. It just       Society. 72(4), 499-511.
shows that in the past, this has
seemingly not been the case. The most       Lean, J. and Rind, D. (1999)
plausible explanation for why the           Evaluating sun-climate relationships
global temperature has increased at a       since the Little Ice Age. Journal of
faster rate than the sun would cause        Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial
over the last 40 years is that human        Physics. 61(1-2), 25-36.
emissions are causing a greenhouse
effect. People should not ignore this.      Neftel, A., Moor, E., Oeschger, H., and
Precautions should be prepared.             Stauffer, B. (1985) Evidence from
Although the anthropogenic climate          polar ice cores for the increase in
change sceptics are contributing to the     atmospheric CO2 in the past two
scientific knowledge, any movement          centuries. Nature. 315, 45-47.
towards lowering human emissions
cannot harm us, as long as they are
economically viable movements.
Ignoring anthropogenic climate change
has a large potential to cause great
harm to the Earth and our own well-
being. Its could lead to economic
crisis, increased disease, extreme
weather conditions, ecosystem
instabilities, global sea level rises and
subsequent flooding, acidification of
the ocean and subsequent mass
extinctions and a variety of other
negative chain events that may even be
unforeseeable (Vitousek, Ecology,
75(7)). For these reasons, it needs to be
considered as a prerogative, and
anthropogenic climate change sceptics
are only mystifying the bottom line.

Further Reading
Dickinson, R. E., and Cicerone, R. J.
(1986) Future global warming from
atmospheric trace gases. Nature. 319,

Fischer, H., Wahlen, M., Smith, J.,
Mastroianni, D., and Deck, B. (1999)
Ice core records of atmospheric CO2
around the three glacial terminations.
Science. 283(5408), 1712-1714.

Kellogg, W. W. (1991) Response to
Skeptics of Global Warming. Bulletin

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