In the past dozen years or so a major controversy has developed through out the world about changes that are supposedly taking place with the earth’s climate. There is a large body of opinion that believes the earth’s temperature is getting warmer due to the increase in greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide (CO2), caused by the burning of fossil fuels and increasing industrial activity, and unless governments take action to remedy the situation then mankind is in serious trouble.
This theory is not believed by everyone. Indeed there are many eminent scientists who have said that the theory has no credibility as the evidence presented by its supporters is inconclusive. So there are two schools of thought on this matter, each adamant that they’re right:
1) Those who believe implicitly that global warming is taking place and that man is entirely responsible by increasing the amount of carbon dioxide ( a ‘greenhouse’ gas) in the atmosphere. I call these people the Scaremongers.
2) Those who believe that much more evidence is needed before any categorical claims can be made. I call these people Idealists.
So lets have a closer look at the issues raised by these two factions:
The Scaremongers predict doom and gloom.
The ‘Yes’ case says emphatically that the earth is getting warmer at an increasing rate, posing a dangerous threat to the future of mankind. They say that the increase in global temperatures over the past 50 years has been caused by a world-wide increase in industrial activity during that same period and earlier. They also suggest that the problem is getting progressively worse and that higher temperatures will lead to melting ice in the polar regions; higher sea levels causing world-wide flooding; more violent storms, hurricanes, typhoons etc; problems in the production of food; and a wide number of other circumstances that could pose problems for life on earth.
The ‘Yes’ case’s solution is to take severe measures today to stop disasters from happening in the future.
They suggest halting and then reversing the situation by eliminating our dependence on oil and coal and embracing ‘clean energy’ such as wind, solar, tidal power; finding an alternative to using oil derivatives for transportation; and most controversially, heavily taxing users of ‘dirty energy’ to force them to switch over to ‘cleaner’ alternatives.
As the biggest users of ‘dirty energy’ the western nations would be exposed to the full impact of these severe impositions.
The Idealists, on the other hand, want more concrete evidence of this forecast change.
The ‘No’ case believes that more credible evidence is needed and collected over a longer period of time, before any definitive conclusion can be determined. They consider that statistically the 50 years period that the Scaremongers quote is nowhere near enough time to establish a long-term trend in the world’s temperatures, taking into account that the age of the earth being 4.5 billion years. They point to the changes, both ups and downs, of the earth’s temperature during its recent history. They also suggest that if a period of climate change is starting then it’s part of a cycle that’s been seen to occur periodically in the past.
The ‘No’ case says that the relationship between possible rising temperatures and man’s industrial activity is at best nothing more than an unproven theory. They suggest that much more concrete evidence than what’ has been presented so far is needed, and as the Scaremongers have been pushing this theory for at least 10 years without producing further evidence, then it’s still a theory.
Some people even suggest that the Scaremongers are inciting public opinion to advance their political ambitions.
However, many of the Idealists agree that a switch to cleaner and renewable energy resources would be beneficial for mankind in the long term, but that the measures put forward by the ‘Yes’ people go too far. Generally, the Idealists agree with the need to find alternate means of energy for when the present sources of fossil fuels – coal, natural gas, oil, uranium – expire, and to get away from suppliers in politically sensitive areas.
The ‘No’ people suggest that as there is a very slim chance of the Scaremongers being proved correct, other world-wide problems should be tackled first and given a greater degree of emphasis than is the present case. Here the Idealists are referring to major issues of world-wide poverty; the ever-increasing gap between the rich and the poor countries; the decline in health services to poorer countries; the deterioration in the quality of political governance in Africa; threats of religious confrontation; as well as the many regionalized issues that have been a source of continuous friction between nations for decades.
This is an attempt to put some balance into the ongoing international controversy that is the theory of man-made climate change.