Global Warming: Current Trends, Causes, And Mitigation Plans Critical Thinking Examples
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Global warming is one of the most mentioned social concerns nowadays. Defined as the “global-average temperature increase that has been observed over the last one hundred years or more,” global warming is seen as a grave threat to the future of our society, more precisely of our whole species as well as those, of animals, plants and other creatures existent in our planet today (Spencer, 2015, n. pag.). With the current and highly observable abrupt changes with the global climate nowadays—interpreted as the main symptom of global warming (McCright & Dunlap, 2000), awareness regarding the rise and complications of what most scientists call as global warming becomes more prevalent among our societies today. And with such increasing awareness regarding the rise and seemingly ongoing development of global warming, debates concerning the many aspects of it, such as its origin, have also been epidemically continuing.
Innate to the nature of human is to look for an explanation as to what causes an impending crisis. Considering global warming as one of such crises, men, regardless of their roles on the brewing issue, have been seeking to find that one culprit of the problem. And in that light, there was not only one but two causes being considered as substantially responsible for the emergence of global warming and its complications: the human race and the nature itself. Literatures that expound the causes of global warming either consider it as anthropogenic or natural. Anthropogenic global warming, as the name denotes, is considered as man-made (McCright & Dunlap, 2000; Rahmstorf, 2008). The extensive residual carbons resulting from the increasing industrialization of societies worldwide is seen as the cause of anthropogenic global warming (McCright & Dunlap, 2000; Rahmstorf, 2008). Anthropogenic global warming revolves around the theory that depicts CO₂ as the main culprit behind the abrupt and unusual warming of the world. As held by the theory, sun produces solar rays that directly hit the surface of the Earth, generating heat (“Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory,” n. date.). Residual infrared (IR) rays produced by the solar rays after hitting the Earth’s surface escape into the atmosphere, significantly reducing temperature and cooling down Earth’s surface (“Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory,” n. date.). However, some IR rays are not capable of leaving the Earth’s surface and remain trapped in the planet’s troposphere, therefore causing the abrupt changes in the climate (“Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory,” n. date.). Such entrapment of IR rays in the Earth’s lowest atmospheric layer is blamed unto the increased concentration of CO₂ which is also considered as a greenhouse gas like water vapor and clouds (“Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory,” n. date.; Spencer, 2015). Such proposed role of carbon dioxide on global warming is highlighted by the observation that global warming did not exist until massive industrialization has begun in the late 19th century (Rahmstorf, 2008). Furthermore, supporters of anthropogenic global warming also hold the fact that global warming has just reached alarming stats after increased carbon dioxide emissions caused by industrial plants were observed over decades (Rahmstorf, 2008). Also, as a greenhouse gas, doubling amounts of CO₂ is theorized to bring about significant increase in the global temperature and climate “in equilibrium by 3°C ± 1.5°C” (Rahmstorf, 2008, p. 37). Attackers of anthropogenic global warming theory, on the other hand, cling onto what is referred to as “natural global warming.” Global warming in such context is considered to be inevitable regardless of the residual carbons produced by man-made technology and industrial plantations (Spencer, 2015). As explained by Spencer (2015), global warming occurs as a result of “small, chaotic fluctuations in atmospheric and oceanic circulation systems [which] can cause small changes in global average cloudiness” (Spencer, 2015, n. pag.). Such small changes in global average cloudiness can do well enough to cause abrupt changes in the climate, yielding the conclusion that climate change and global warming would take place with or without the contribution of mankind and residual carbon dioxide (Spencer, 2015). Furthermore, supporters of natural global warming stand on the premise that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant but an important gas to sustain life on Earth (Happer, 2011). As explained by Dr. Happer (2011), life of mankind and animals per se can still continue without carbon dioxide. However, plants would be extinct without any supply of carbon dioxide, and since plants are the main source of nutrition for both animals and men (because both are not capable of manufacturing food directly from sunlight), life would also eventually be over without them (Happer, 2011). Additionally, with the finding that the lowest limit for CO₂ emission on Earth is not lower than 150 ppm (to avoid harming plants) and the highest being not above 5000 ppm (to avoid harming humans), natural global warming supporters claim that the need to limit the carbon dioxide emissions nowadays is an exaggeration, as the current CO₂ level on Earth is only at 390 ppm—still nearer to the lowest end than to the highest to consider suppressing CO₂ emission levels (Happer, 2011; Rahmstorf, 2008). Aside from the debate between anthropogenic and natural global warming supporters, a larger debate regarding the “realness” of global warming is also continuous in both the scientific and political fields.
The presence of global warming and the measures done to control it are currently under the skeptical scrutiny of some scientists, politicians, and even economists. Those who question the integrity of researches proving the presence of global warming attack the lack of definite data showing significant warming over the last decade, unreliable experiments with parameters they claim to be unrealistic, and the claim that CO₂ emissions should be monitored which they think is unnecessary as CO₂ is not a pollutant (Nordhaus, 2012). Rebutting such claims, a great majority of scientists debate that global warming is in fact existent. In proving such, scientists point to the significant increase of global temperature and climate change associated with high emissions of carbon dioxide (Nordhaus, 2012; Rahmstorf, 2011). Also, scientists proving global warming point out the misinterpretation of data made by their opponents, asserting that the lack of significant warming over the past decade same to the estimation of simulated experiments does not mean there is no warming at all (Nordhaus, 2012). Warming is actually increasing especially now, with the residual carbon produced by industrialization (Nordhaus, 2012). Also, the claim made saying CO₂ is not a pollutant in connection to the prevalence of global warming is seen as out of context as CO₂ is not being evaluated as a toxic gas but, rather, as a greenhouse gas contributing to the trapping of IR rays and therefore, to the warming of the Earth (Nordhaus, 2012). With such points made by scientists confirming the presence of global warming, it is indeed enough to consider the realness of the problem on hand.
With the obvious ongoing manifestations of global warming that seem to worsen over time, it is somewhat safe to say that the current legislations passed to address such social problem need to be stricter and more far-reaching. Policymakers should not just focus on carbon emitted by large industrial plants but also on methods to make everyone vigilant regarding their residual carbon wastes. A way to measure individual carbon emission should be established and a way to penalize violating individual should also be determined. Also, legislation should include a way to make environment more tolerant of increased CO₂ emissions, such as making the planting of more trees mandatory especially in places where heavy pollution can be observed.
“Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory.” (no date). Free Critical Thinking. Retrieved from http://www.freecriticalthinking.org/climate-change/123-anthropogenic-global-warming-theory
Happer, W. (2011). The Truth About Greenhouse Gases. The Global Warming Policy Foundation, 1-19. Retrieved from http://www.thegwpf.org/images/stories/gwpf-reports/happer-the_truth_about_greenhouse_gases.pdf
McCright, A.M., Dunlap, R.E. (2000, Nov.). Challenging Global Warming as a Social Problem: An Analysis of the Conservative Movement’s Counter-Claims. Social Problems, 47(4), 499-522. Retrieved from http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Publications/PDF_Papers/McCrightDunlap2000.pdf
Nordhaus, W.D. (2012, Apr. 4). Global Warming Is Real and Has Consequences — Part I. Yale Global Online. Retrieved from http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/global-warming-real-has-consequences-part-i
Rahmstorf, S. (2008). Anthropogenic Climate Change: Revisiting the Facts. In Z. Ernesto (Ed.), Global Warming: Looking Beyond Kyoto, pp. 34-53. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press. Retrieved from http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Publications/PDF_Papers/McCrightDunlap2000.pdf
Spencer, R. (2015). Global Warming: Natural or Manmade? Retrieved from http://www.drroyspencer.com/global-warming-natural-or-manmade/
Szulczewski, M.L., MacMinn, C.W., Herzog, H.J., and Ruanes, R. (2012, Apr. 3). Lifetime of carbon capture and storage as a climate-change mitigation technology. PNAS, 109(14), 5185-5189. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1115347109
“The Obama Administration’s Take on “Clean” Coal.” (2009, Jul. 21). Scientific American. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/obama-and-clean-coal/
“What is CCS?” (2015). The Carbon Capture and Storage Association. Retrieved from http://www.ccsassociation.org/what-is-ccs/
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