Essay on Debating the Cause of Global Warming

Essay on Debating the Cause of Global Warming

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Global Warming

The world is warming up. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has declared that the cause of the warming is human emission of certain gases into the atmosphere. The verdict of the IPCC is widely, but not universally, accepted. A small minority of scientists reject the finding of IPCC and propose that global warming is driven by the sun. Some also charge that IPCC is driven by a political agenda. These dissidents are beginning to get a public hearing. It is important that this matter be debated openly.

The conventional scientific consensus is that global warming is caused by the enhanced greenhouse effect. The only external source of energy available to earth is the sun. Radiation from the sun shines on the surface of the earth, heating it, and the earth radiates the heat back into the atmosphere. The atmosphere is pretty much transparent to radiation incoming from the sun, but it partially absorbs the heat radiated from the earth and slows down its transmission to outer space. This serves to keep our earth at a nice average temperature of 14oC [o is superscript] and eminently suitable for life. This phenomenon is called the greenhouse effect (GE) and, if the earth had no atmosphere, it would alternately bake by day and freeze by night, thoroughly unsuitable for life.

Certain gases in our atmosphere, principally water vapour, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and ozone are responsible for the GE but most of the GE can be attributed to water vapour and cloud cover. The earth has been warming gradually since 1850 and scientific measurements have correlated this warming with a gradual build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere caused by humankind’s widespread burning of fossil fuel. W...

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...e respective scientific arguments of both sides. However, I am bothered by charges made by Dr. Richard Lindzen, a former member of IPCC, and others, that IPCC scientists are under pressure to conclude that global warming is caused by carbon dioxide emissions and that the summaries issued by IPCC well in advance of the detailed main IPCC reports often differ significantly in tone and interpretation from the detail in the main reports. The media relies largely on these easily digested summaries.

On balance, I will continue to trust the IPCC conclusions. I have read evidence that the cosmic ray theory is being seriously hyped up – solar activity has changed little over the last 30 years, but global temperature has gone up significantly. However, I am somewhat bothered by the whole thing. I would like to see open, honest scientific debate on this vital matter.

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