Below are two opposing opinions from guest commentators on the topic,"Is Global Warming a Myth?" The Wayne Independent is planning a weekly series of FACE OFF commentators and YOU are welcome and needed to participate. Contact Managing Editor Peter Becker at firstname.lastname@example.org or (570)253-3055 to volunteer as a guest commentator for a future topic!
NO IT ISN'T
By ROBERT HANDLOFF
Teaches European and African History at the University of Scranton. Otherwise retired after working for 25 years at the Library of Congress in snowy Washington.
To the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global warming is beyond dispute: measurements show long term increases in average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice in polar regions and on mountain tops, and rising sea levels. The years between 1995 and 2006 rank as the eleven warmest years since records have been kept in 1850. IPCC reports show that spring is arriving earlier and plant and animal ranges (terrestrial and aquatic) are slowly moving in the direction of the poles as temperatures, ice cover, and salt and oxygen levels affect current habitat. Elsewhere NASA has reported 22% increases in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Could this be “natural”? Maybe, but human activity--if not causing--is exacerbating the problem.
Why do so many people continue to deny these facts—and use as “proof” Washington’s recent snowfalls (while conveniently ignoring Vancouver’s 50-degree weather on Olympic ski slopes or record-breaking heat in Australia.)? These people are simply confusing short-term weather changes with long-term climate changes.
To explain this, Harvard instructor David Ropeik describes four “tribes” in this dispute– and we all share some of these views. One tribe (tending to be older) prefers a society with which they’re familiar: more orderly, conservative, and structured with defined classes and authorities and elites, where things don’t change much. Another is more individualist (think: Tea Party) and otherwise wants a government predisposed to leave people alone. These groups tend to cite evidence denying global warming, because proof of warming would cast blame on those comfortable with the status quo AND demand more of the hated government’s intervention.
A third tribe prefers a society without the class, hierarchical, and status preferences of the first group, where instead everybody has equal opportunities. The fourth tribe comprises community-minded people who think we’re all in one global community. These two tribes accept facts on global warming because they distrust the inequality and status quo of privileged conservative elites and, in the case of the fourth tribe, prefer to see all of humankind linked.
But the facts remain. Choosing to ignore them doesn’t change them.
YES IT IS
By STEVE FOUNTAIN
Steve Fountain is a Honesdale resident and stay-at-home father. He is currently working a number of part-time jobs, including with the U.S. Census.
As a Christian, I believe that science will someday learn what faith has always known – that God is the creator and in control of all things. We are charged by the Creator with being good stewards of the land.
It is the height of human arrogance to think the way the Earth has been for the last few years is its optimal, perfect design, much less that we can dramatically alter global conditions.
But let's level the playing field by keeping things in the scientific realm. I'll even skip the scandal-riddled data from Phil Jones and his Climate Research Unit at the University East Anglia.
My short list of human-caused global warming challenges:
The current temperature rise is tied to the start of the industrial revolution in 1880. Of course, scientists often skip over the fact that 1880 is also what many in their field cite as the end of a “mini-ice age.” Also punching holes in tying temperature increases to industry is that temperatures cooled from the 1940s to 1970s – at the height of industrialization. That same data (www.giss.nasa.gov) shows that U.S. temperatures peaked in the 1930s and then cooled for the next 60 years.
Desert land in Africa is decreasing as plants retake the sand.
Temperature stations sensors lack uniformity, with some mounted on heat-radiating roofs and facing parked cars.
Temperatures atop Mt. Kilimanjaro have not increased. However, deforestation at the base of the mountain has decreased moisture and, thus, reduced the volume of snow atop the famed mountain.
Glaciers are growing in Iceland and Greenland. Antarctica is not melting, only its small peninsula. Overall, the continent cooled each decade since 1986. Ice is growing rapidly. The sea-ice season has increased by 21 days since 1979.
The Earth's history has been marked by drastic climate changes, from ice ages to droughts. Let's accept the fact the change in a constant with our planet.