Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Global Warming?

Global warming has become quite an issue lately. Temperatures are rising but that seems to be just about all anybody can prove. There are so many slogans and sound bites on global warming that it's hard to tell what's really going on. Well, here's my opinion:

The problem with global warming is that it is a very complex issue that too many people are trying to oversimplify (including Al Gore). The real "inconvenient truth" is that we simply don't know enough to make some of the judgements that are being made.

Is global warming happening? Yes. I doubt you'll really find anyone knowledgable on the subject that doesn't think it's happening. That's the easy question.

Are humans causing it? Nobody really knows. There is some evidence that human activity plays a part in it. However, the data doesn't show the extent. Are we causing 90% of global warming or 1%. We simply don't know. There isn't enough data.

Is catastrophic climate change on the horizon? Again, we don't know. The complex climate models that everybody seems to think are accurate predictors aren't. The fact is that these climate predictors can't take 1990 data and accurately predict 2000 weather/climate. Yet everybody seems to trust that it's accurate at predicting the climate for 2050. Once again, we need more accurate information.

The real problem with global warming is that we really don't know anything concrete apart from the fact that it's happening. In 1975, Newsweek published an article that claimed global COOLING was going to cause all sorts of environmental disasters. I guess that scare was short lived.

My personal opinion is that the pollutants/greenhouse gases that we are pumping into the atmosphere are, at best, a health hazard to all those living in large cities (asthma, respiratory infections, shorter lifespans, etc) and at worst, an enviromental disaster. So whether or not we're causing global warming will probably always be up for debate but whether or not we should clean up our emissions should not be. I'm all for cleaning up our air. If we do it because of "global warming" then great, if we do for the health of our children then great. It's a win win situation.

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