Global Warming: All Hyped Up With Nowhere Term Paper

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Global Warming: All Hyped Up With Nowhere to Go

Flow of Information

What is Global Warming?

Those who believe it

Those who don't believe it

Global warming discussions have been circulating for the past few decades with increasing frequency. Forty years ago it was a hypothesis that was thrown into the ring for discussion and examined as a "what if" by scientists around the world. Thirty years ago scientists began to offer up shreds of evidence that they believed indicated it was occurring. Twenty years ago scientists began to sound alarm bells in the hopes of gaining support for research. Ten years ago they told the world it was in trouble if society did not heed the signs. Today, it is referred to constantly as politicians, scientists and concerned citizens scramble to make sense of what is and what isn't factual. There is a growing element of fear across the globe and as evidence mounts with regard to its existence, global warming has moved to the forefront of world concerns.

As Cold War tensions ease, there is a growing recognition among international leaders and policymakers that developing a timely, equitable, and effective strategy for abating global warming will be their next great diplomatic challenge (Udall, 1990)."

Global environmental changes are becoming the topic of debate around the world among politicians, scientists and dinner guests as evidence mounts with regard to the negative impact global warming will have on the world in the future.

On Capitol Hill, where six bills to abate global warming have been introduced, former Vice President Senator Al Gore has said, "The question is whether the world's political system can find a new equilibrium before the world's climate system loses its current one... The winds of change are approaching hurricane force (Udall, 1990)."

Experts in the field of climatology predict worldwide social and economic changes if the trend continues that they predict will raise the average earth temperature by three to six degrees over the next four decades.

One expert in the field summed it up when he said:

Such a radical shift in temperature is guaranteed to trigger economic and social upheaval on an unimaginable scale. Its ecological impacts -- ice caps melting, farm crops wilting, entire forests dying -- will be catastrophic. One fact not yet grasped by many is that the Earth's thermostat has no upper limit; the warming will continue, theoretically for centuries, unless and until humankind acts to stop it (Udall, 1990)."

For those who need the warning signs that immediate action must be taken the time has come for drastic and worldwide measures. For those who believe it is nothing more than a political ploy to gain political and financial support it is a farce. Somewhere in the middle lies the answer.

What it is Before one can decide whether or not to believe the information being released with regard to global warming, it is important that one have an indication of what the scientists are saying it is and how it will affect the world as they see it.

Global warming is a process by which the earth's overall temperature continues to rise. While it sounds simple in its term it is actually a complicated process that will cause the earth's overall temperatures to rise between three and six degrees by the year 2050(Udall, 1990).

To the average laymen this does not sound serious as it simply means instead of it being 80 degrees in July it will be 83 or 86 degrees but scientists warn that it is not as simple as it sounds.

According to recent data retrieved from various studies on the subject of global warming such a temperature change will cause oceans to move inland and eventually completely cover cities including New York, New Orleans and others that make their way along the coasts of America and other nations.

Scientists have continued to predict that other cities will become submerged around the world including Bangkok, most of the Netherlands and Egypt and completely erase entire nations that are off the coast of India (Udall, 1990).

A recent illustration in Scientific American showed what Florida might look like by the year 2200: the southern two hundred miles of the state, from Key West past Miami to West Palm Beach, would be submerged under the Atlantic Ocean. Like many of global warming's potential impacts, this one is difficult to credit and nearly impossible to fathom (Udall, 1990)."

Currently, scientists are warning that global warming is about to become a planetary emergency which will throw mankind into a crisis mode never before experienced.

One of the reasons that this crisis is coming according to those who believe the predictions is the fact that mankind has built its society on the use of fossil fuels including coal, oil and other natural elements including gases. The fuels are used through a burning process and that process has released significantly large quantities of something called "greenhouse gases" into the atmosphere (Udall, 1990).

The most important gas with regard to the greenhouse affect is carbon dioxide (Udall, 1990).It is not a "pollutant" that can be "scrubbed," trapped, or otherwise eliminated, it is a fundamental byproduct of the combustion process (Udall, 1990). This means that global warming has been simmering for a long time (Udall, 1990). Until recently, though, it has been one of the hidden costs of progress (Udall, 1990,in one fashion or another, it will affect the lives of nearly everyone on the planet (Udall, 1990)."

In addition to the issues about the actual process of global warming, there have been many arguments about how to proceed to stop its progression.

There has been a flurry of scientific and diplomatic discussions aimed at reaching some informal agreement on how best to proceed (Udall, 1990). Under the auspices of the United Nations, multilateral working groups are attempting to resolve some of the uncertainties about the greenhouse effect and lay the groundwork for further initiatives (Udall, 1990). Meanwhile, diplomats have begun to brainstorm ways of crafting an abatement agreement that will enable the overarching interest of a stable climate to surmount each nation's tendency to act in its own selfish interest (Udall, 1990).

At a meeting at the Hague years ago, the leaders of seventeen countries, including France, Norway, Hungary, Japan, Kenya, West Germany, and the Netherlands, proposed to broaden the mandate of the United Nations Environmental Program (Udall, 1990), Transforming UNEP into something approaching an "Environmental Security Council" was a radical idea, said Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, "but any approach, less ambitious would not serve us (Udall, 1990)."

Heads of state began to take heed with regard to the threat of global warming during the early 1990's and from that point on the issue has been used for intense political debates (Udall, 1990).

For many years the most pressing ecological question for society was how much fuel does society have to burn, however, the question has now become how much can it burn without contributing unnecessary amounts to global warming (Udall, 1990).

Since the Earth's atmosphere is a commons, logic suggests that no country has an incentive to control its emissions, unless it has ironclad assurances that other countries will also control theirs (Udall, 1990). In recent months, many scientists and international leaders have called for a treaty, enforced with trade sanctions and a fossil fuel levy, or "climate protection tax (Udall, 1990)." It has been widely suggested that such a treaty might be modeled after the 1987 Montreal Protocol, signed by more than forty nations, to phase out the production of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (Udall, 1990).

But many aspects of the global warming phenomenon promise to make the drafting of a "Law of the Atmosphere" a torturous and perhaps ultimately futile exercise. Among the potential stumbling blocks (Udall, 1990):

There is no scientific consensus that global warming has yet begun. It may be another decade before scientists can detect a clear "signal" that the predicted warming is occurring (Udall, 1990).

The impacts of global warming will vary from place to place (Udall, 1990). For example, low-lying countries like the Netherlands and Bangladesh have more to fear from a sea level rise than landlocked countries like Bolivia or Czechoslovakia (Udall, 1990). The U.S. Corn Belt may suffer recurring droughts, but Canada and the U.S.S.R. may experience a net gain in arable land (Udall, 1990)."

Many governments currently subsidize energy to make it cheap. Energy prices in the U.S.S.R., for example, remain pegged at 1928 levels; and in real terms, gasoline prices in the U.S. are now at a historic low (Udall, 1990). Abating global warming will require discouraging the usage of fossil fuels by making them more expensive. This will be unpopular (Udall, 1990).

With the exception of a few large countries like the U.S., China, and U.S.S.R., which together produce about fifty-two percent of global CO2 most nations are responsible for only a minuscule portion of total CO2 releases (Udall, 1990).

Global warming's worst impacts are remote in space and time.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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