The Global Warming Crisis

By Jordan, Stuart | The Humanist, November-December 2005 | Go to article overview

The Global Warming Crisis


Jordan, Stuart, The Humanist


THE EVIDENCE IS OVERWHELMING that the Earth's surface is warmer today than it was a century ago. As for why this is so, research by thousands of scientists strongly suggests that the cause is the largely uncontrolled and still increasing release of anthropogenic (human-caused) greenhouse gases. Yet there remain a few scientists who oppose these conclusions, claiming that either the evidence for significant global warming is unreliable or that, granting the problem, the sources are natural cycles over which we have little or no control.

This isn't a mere academic debate. The conclusions held by leaders in a variety of fields can't help but have a profound impact on social, political, and economic policy. Thus each side has expended considerable effort to convince the public, and through it the political establishment, of the validity of its stance. But because neither has been entirely successful, particularly in the United States, policies have been inconsistent and changeable, subject to partisan wrangling, corporate lobbying, and a general inadequacy of resolve.

The importance of the issue was most forcefully brought to the public's attention with Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. Their unusual severity, being among the strongest ever recorded in the Gulf of Mexico, reminded a number of network newscasters of recent scientific reports predicting an increase in hurricane severity.

For example, the article "Extreme Weather: Is Global Warming to Blame?" in the May/June 2005 E/The Environmental Magazine quoted Ruth Curry, a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute research specialist, saying, "Sea surface temperatures all over the tropics are running 1.8 to 3.6 degrees above normal. This is due to global warming." The article's author, Jennifer Vogel, noted the relevance of this: "While ocean and atmospheric circulation is the engine of a hurricane, heat is the fuel." Her summation makes it all plain: "The general scientific consensus on climate change and hurricanes is this: Hurricanes won't necessarily become more frequent, but they will become more intense."

This view was further supported by Massachusetts Institute of Technology climatologist Kerry Emanuel, writing in the July 2005 issue of Nature. He reported research suggesting that violent storms originating in the Atlantic and Pacific since 1970 have increased in intensity and duration by approximately 50 percent.

But on August 2 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration raised its 2005 Atlantic Ocean hurricane forecast, predicting eighteen to twenty-one tropical storms: nine to eleven of which would become hurricanes and between rive and seven expected to reach major hurricane status. By October 9 the season had already yielded twenty tropical storms, eleven of which became hurricanes and rive that were major. By contrast, a typical Atlantic storm year has only six hurricanes with two to three being major. That this is part of a new trend over recent years emerges from the NOAA's statement that "these very high levels of activity are comparable to those seen during August-November 2003 and 2004" The conclusion would seem to be that, with global warming, hurricanes are becoming not only more severe but also more frequent. And the mainstream media is paying attention.

In such a scientifically--and politically-charged atmosphere, more people need to become familiar with the scientific evidence and understand the nature of the debate so they can respond knowledgeably and communicate with policymakers in an informed way. Toward that end, this article aims to assess that weight of evidence to see if it is, in fact, sufficiently alarming to recommend more than cosmetic action. It will also review the debate itself to see where the trouble lies and what the political dimensions of the problem have become.

WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE THAT SIGNIFICANT GLOBAL WARMING IS OCCURRING?

If the summarized results of thousands of scientific studies that appear in the Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control-Climate Change 2001, The Scientific Study, hereafter referred to as the IPCC 2001 report, are valid, the answer is unambiguously that significant global warming is occurring.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Global Warming Crisis
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.