Global Warming: Who’s to Blame?
It seems that a single week does not go by without hearing something about global warming. It has been all over the news for as long as I can remember. Because of this media bombardment, I would be surprised to find a single person in America that does not know about global warming. I’ll also go so far as to assume that the vast majority of the people you ask will tell you that not only is global warming occurring, but humans are to blame. In fact, John Stossel, in a special report on the TV show 20/20, says “that 86 percent of Americans say global warming is a serious problem.” If you believe Al Gore, the debate over global warming is over (Give). Al Gore insists that global warming is happening, and that humans are most definitely to blame. However, in truth, the debate over global warming and who is to blame is far from over.
The media’s fascination with global warming and climate change is not a new one. Over the past 100 years, scientists and the media have reported on countless occasions about global warming and global cooling. Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, James Inhofe, makes note of this in his report to the senate titled Hot & Cold Media Spin Cycle: A Challenge to Journalists Who Cover Global Warming. He says that in 1895, the New York Times reported on an impending ice age saying “Geologists think the world nay be frozen up again” (9). He goes on to say that in 1912, the New York Times and Newsweek both ran articles on the encroaching ice age, and that it would threaten the survival of the human race (10). Thankfully that ice age never happened and the human race was able to survive.
The trend of scientists forming bad theories and the media promoting them in a rush of fear and panic did not stop at the turn of this century. In the 1930s global cooling was no longer an issue, and instead global warming was the great fear. By the 1970s, global cooling again took center stage and was hyped up by the media. Thankfully, we did not try any of the more radical approaches of stopping the global cooling problem in the 1970s. Instead, we allowed the natural fluctuations of the earth to run its course. Glen Beck mentions in his book, An Inconvenient Book, that one of those radical ideas would have had us covering the polar ice caps with black soot to melt them (14). Imagine the damage that might have caused and the repercussions we would still be facing today. Obviously science has come a long way in the last 100 years; however we still do not fully understand our climate or environment. I wonder what people fifty years from now will think about our attempts to stop global warming like the Kyoto protocol.
Scientists do agree that the earth goes through periods of warming trends and cooling trends. This has been going on far before man was around and will conceivably continue to occur far after we are gone. From about 900 to 1300 there was a period of time known as the Medieval Warm Period which many scientists believe had even higher temperatures than today. It was during this time that the coasts of Greenland were in fact green and not covered in ice like today. There were no SUV’s, coal plants, or other large sources of greenhouse gases, and yet, global warming took place. After the Medieval Warm Period, there was a Little Ice Age from about 1500 to 1850. As Senator James Inhofe says in his 2006 report on global warming to the senate, trying to compare today’s temperatures to those of the Little Ice Age is “akin to comparing summer to winter to show a catastrophic temperature trend” (4). Another point he makes, is that starting around 1940 and ending in the 1970s, a time when man-made carbon dioxide emission increased greatly, temperatures declined and caused many scientists to predict a coming ice age (5).
According to the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on...
Cited: An Inconvenient Truth. Dir. Davis Guggenheim. Perf. Al Gore, Billy West. 2006. DVD. Paramount. 2006.
Beck, Glenn. An Inconvenient Book. New York: Threshold Edition, 2007.
Coleman, John. Comments on Global Warming. 20 Mar. 2008. 17 Nov. 2008. .
Doyle, Alister. “World warming despite cool Pacific and Baghdad snow.” 11 Jan. 2008. Reuters. 01
“Give Me a Break: Global Warming.” 20/20. ABC. 16 Nov. 2008.
25 Sep. 2006. 01 Nov. 2008 .
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