The Scientific and Social Challenges of Global Warming


LITA – October 6, 2007

This is an interesting overview of global warming and its social challenges. I think that the author has oversimplified the conversation to some degree and may have even extrapolated some events that may not be applicable.  For instance, it is very difficult to say that polar bears will be extinct in 40 years since we do not have a good understanding of the numbers of polar bears today. There does not appear to be multiple and repeatable studies that show that current polar bear population is even declining.

The author also says that hurricanes will be more powerful in the future due to global warming and multiple scientists have come out against that hypothesis. Once again, it does not appear that the facts support that claim.

The author also describes the Kyoto treaty which has shown little ability to reduce the level of carbon dioxide (even without the USA signing on). It is correct though that France is mostly nuclear and that investment will significantly aid them in becoming more carbon friendly.

Not until the 1950s did Dave Keeling at La Jolla put together a lab to measure the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That regular measurement has continued to this day and the carbon dioxide is continuing to increase over time. There’s a regular up-and-down line in the graph of levels of carbon dioxide which Jeffrey calls “the breath” of Earth. During the summertime, the level of carbon dioxide lowers because plants absorb carbon dioxide. During the winter, when deciduous plants drop their leaves, carbon dioxide levels increase.

Sea surface warming leads to more severe hurricanes and to sea water impacts onto freshwater supplies in Pacific islands. Polar bears are expected to be extinct within 40 years.

Public surveys have indicated enormous (near 90%) of US population agrees with reducing emissions and Kyoto Protocol but very little (below 20%) support a gas tax. Despite apparent support for “them” to change, there’s less willingness for “me” to change — although Toyota is making lots of money on hybrids and Ford is losing (no-pain solutions do work).

You can read the rest of this article here.

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