Climate Change – The Basis For Controversy

During the past 15 years a major world-wide controversy has arisen concerning the earth’s climate: Is it getting warmer? – and if so the cause of this phenomena.

Two different aspects of the same controversy, but rolled into one by many people. These people assume that acceptance of the global warming theory means accepting that mans’ industrial activities are causing the problem. Such people fail to see that the two issues are separate. Belief in global warming does not mean belief in mans’ culpability.

The man-made global warming theory polarizes people like no other. Most of the average people who have some knowledge of this theory are divided into two camps:

1) Those who believe implicitly that global warming is taking place and that man is entirely responsible. I call these people the Alarmists

2) Those who believe that much more evidence is needed before any categorical claims can be made. I call these people Realists.

So lets have a closer look at the points raised by these two groups.

The Alarmists predict a nightmare scenario

The Alarmists believe emphatically that the earth is getting warmer at an alarming rate, posing a severe threat to the continued existence of mankind. They point to the rise in global temperatures over the past 50 years and suggest that this has been caused by a world-wide increase in greenhouse gases – industrial and pollution-causing activity – during that same period and earlier. They also indicate that they believe the problem is getting progressively worse and that higher temperatures will lead to higher sea levels causing coastal flooding; more violent storms, hurricanes, typhoons etc; possible problems in food production; and a wide number of other situations that could cause devastating conditions affecting life on earth.

The solutions they propose to halting and then reversing the situation include eliminating our dependence on oil and coal and embracing ‘clean energy’ such as wind, solar, tidal power; finding an alternative to using oil for transportation; and most controversially, heavily taxing users of ‘dirty energy’ to compel them to switch over to the ‘clean’ alternative.
As the biggest users of ‘dirty energy’ western nations would bare the full impact of these severe measures.

The Realists want more concrete evidence of change

The Realists believe that much more scientific evidence, collected over a longer period of time, is necessary before any definitive conclusion can be determined. They consider that the 50 years period that the Alarmists refer to is nowhere near enough time to determine the long-term trend in the world’s overall temperatures, taking into account the age of the earth being 4.5 billion years. They point to the ups and downs of the earth’s temperature during its recent history and suggest that if a period of climate change is starting then it’s part of an ongoing cycle that happens from time to time.

They say that the relationship between possible rising temperatures and man’s industrial activity is at best tenuous. The Realists suggests that the Alarmists have to produce much more tangible evidence than what’s been presented so far. There is a feeling amongst the Realists that some of the Alarmists are whipping up public opinion to further their political ambitions

However, the Realists would agree that a switch to cleaner energy resources would be beneficial in the long term, but that the measures suggested by the Alarmists go too far.

Generally, the Realists accept the need to find and install alternate means of energy for when the present sources – coal, gas, oil, uranium – expire. The Realists also press the point that there are more important issues to be resolved than the extremely slim chance of the Alarmists being proved right. Here the Realists refer to major issues of world-wide poverty; the ever-increasing gap between the rich and the poor countries; the decline 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.