I think this is an interesting topic, though I admit I probably won't have a lot of meaningful contribution, as I don't know a whole lot on it...I've heard a lot of arguments on both sides, but I keep having this feeling that the topic has become so politically charged that I have trouble trusting the apparently scientific facts that either side periodically comes out with. x3
I do have a lot of disjointed, incomplete thoughts though, of course. ;9 (It's long post time, guys.)
Athena32 wrote:It was a bit sensationalist of me to do the whole "We're all going to die" thing, wasn't it. Not my best argument.
Actually, I've heard many of the arguments you've put forward, and I think many of them are things kids are taught in schools. I have a vague memory myself of a teacher telling us something like, 'All scientists now acknowledge that global warming is real.' Think of Artemis Fowl, The Atlantis Complex, where Artemis tells the fairies that in fifty years, the planet will be uninhabitable. I'm sure Colfer would have had Artemis saying that based on mainstream scientific data or commonly held beliefs. I've also heard that many of the more extreme doom-and-gloom arguments were later found to have been very much exaggerated, at least in terms of the immediacy of the likely effects. That is, I heard someone say at some point that scientists still believe global warming is happening, but doubt that the apocalypse is going to hit us in the next century. (My uncle is geology professor at a university, and although I don't know his exact opinion on global warming, I read something he wrote [kind of like an opener to get students to think and write on the topic], where he says that while climate changes and fluctuations in temperature are very complex, there does seem to be an upward trend of temperature correlated to human activity, but that the likely results of that rise in temperature are much less certain.)
--Of course, these are just things I've heard here and there. I've heard arguments for global warming and what's going to happen in the near future, and I've heard arguments against its existence, or if it does exist, that it's not human caused. But I haven't done any firsthand research of my own, and I also know very few of the people whose arguments I hear have done research (not sure about my uncle, his specialty is more in rocks, but I'm sure he knows the data). As I'm considering these things, I'm also aware of the phenomenon of 'confirmation bias'--the human tendency to take in concepts and ideas that reinforce already held beliefs, while filtering out facts that contradict held beliefs. Scientists are not immune to the tendency either, so you have to take that into account when you read their own perceptions of data they've gathered.
So, for that reason, for the moment I'm staying on the fence where global warming is concerned. I've read arguments on both sides (I won't reject an argument purely because it seems sensational, because sometimes the truth is sensational, but when I hear something I do try to look at the source), but I feel like I'm not equipped to evaluate it in a meaningful way, at least at the moment.
Athena32 wrote:I probably shouldn't have mentioned the Nat. Geo. link as much as I did, because you're right, it isn't concrete evidence. I thought it would be an interesting graphic for people to look at. However, you said something earlier about scientists forging data, and I think that is highly unlikely. Even if someone had the motive to do so, hundreds of people all over the world are looking at this issue, and if it is completely made up, you'd think the majority of them would say something.
(I couldn't find the original quote of what you're responding to here, but yeah, I have heard this argument before, that scientists are just making things up willy-nilly. X3)
Personally, I've always thought this isn't a good argument to make in a scientific debate, for the simple reason that most likely few of us have done valid research of our own on the subject, and just throwing the possibility that the data is wrong out there is vague and not really a solid argument. Of course, if you have specific examples of that which are proven, that's something else, but even then, just pointing to one or two instances of evidence tampering can put you in danger of creating a straw-man argument. (Taking one extreme scenario that doesn't properly represent your opponent's views.)
But, I have to say, there's a big however here. Getting back to the notion that 'Most serious/respected scientists believe global warming is real'--I think it's important to remember that when we hear things like this (even from people we trust intellectually, like teachers), that the majority of scientists believing something isn't proof of a reality. Of course, it's our natural tendency to trust the views of people we view as experts on a subject, and in fact, there's a certain wisdom in that—we trust plumbers to know how to fix our plumbing, and we trust accountants to know how to crunch numbers, and likewise, we trust that what scientists tell us when they are talking about their particular area of expertise.
But, I think there are several reasons to be leery of accepting something in science simply because it's currently accepted by a majority of the scientific community. First and foremost, scientists are influenced by one another, and each other's interpretations of data. Are scientists independently coming to similar conclusions? Or, getting back to the idea of confirmation bias, is it possible a certain preconceived view is broadly coloring interpretations of data? (Which could also explain why many scientists believe in the same thing.)
Of course, the scientific process of today is more complex and has more safeguards in place to prevent that, but I think it's important to realize that that doesn't always stop it from happening, and that's why it's important to honestly read both sides of any scientific argument before drawing conclusions, because even experts can get skewed views affected by the culture of the scientific community they live in.
I'm not saying that's happening with global warming or that it's not happening (again, I'm bad and haven't read a whole lot, I've just heard things here and there X3), but I think that is an important reality to be aware of when trying to make an argument or learn about scientific concepts. (There are definitely concepts that are very broadly accepted in the scientific community today, and are taught as fact in the classroom, that from my own reading and studies seem to have such glaring logical flaws that it's troubling those flaws aren't more commonly discussed and addressed. Which has made me leery of accepting things said by people we would label as scientific experts. There are also plenty of examples in history where you have scientific concepts that were broadly accepted, but were later overturned by paradigm shifts, because someone was able to think outside the box enough to question common beliefs. For instance, the idea that the earth was the center of the universe, or that the universe always existed.)
Merv wrote:You do realize that all animals have the ability to adapt to changes in their surroundings? I would also point out that if certain species do die out because of global warming, might it really be natural selection instead of humans that causes that?
Athena32 wrote:The animals adapting to their surroundings I disagree with, because it would be hard for generations to adapt that quickly. If the animal that another depends on for food dies out, would it be able to change food sources before it died?
You could call it natural selection, I suppose, but you could look at a lot of things that way. In WARP book one (the best example I can think of right now), was Riley at fault for holding the dagger that killed Orange's dad? Or was the guy who moved Riley's hand at fault? Most people would say the person who moved his hand, which, if you go back to the issue, would be the human race. (Riley would be the principal of natural selection.)
I don't think these ideas are totally in opposition. I think it gets down the idea of whether we humans are the ones causing global warming or not—If global warming does cause animals to go extinct, but global warming is actually the result of entirely natural processes (volcanism, etc.), then it is what we would call 'natural selection,' and part of the natural cycles of the planet. (Species have gone extinct in the past without our interference.) On the other hand, if we are causing global warming, and without human activity the animals would have lived, I wouldn't call that natural selection, or at least, I wouldn't consider that as absolving humans of responsibility for it.
That being said, whether global warming is real or not, many animals have died as a result of human activity, species wiped out and environments destroyed.
Merv wrote:When I referred to trees growing better I meant the fact that they feed off of CO2 and produce oxygen.
Athena32 wrote:Trees do use CO2 in the process of photosynthesis, but they also need water and land to do that. If the soil is to hot to hold a reasonable amount of water, the tree is dead. If people are using the land for farming or building, the tree doesn't have that space. Another thing to consider is the detrimental effect of acid rain on the trees.
I've heard this argument, I think, about the trees. (And also some of the other things I didn't quote, like a warmer climate will make colder areas more habitable.) I have to agree with Athena—while there may actually be some benefits to some areas of the world as a result of global warming (I know I'd be happy if I didn't have to drive to work in the snow this winter X3), nature is made up of a delicate web of checks and balances, and often when humans try to affect it in a way that initially seems beneficial, they are often in danger of throwing off that balance. (Just think of Yellowstone or some of the other national parks. We used to try to prevent forest fires, because we wanted to protect the wildlife and human buildings there, but fires are a natural part of the life cycle of those places, replenishing soil with nutrients, and human interference created problems they couldn't have anticipated. Of course, nature is resilient and it often bounces back, but that doesn't mean there aren't unnecessary casualties as a result.)
However, this also works the other way—if global warming is in fact a result of the earth's natural processes, even if that warming causes problems for us, we probably shouldn't try to stop it, or we'll potentially create deeper problems within nature's delicate balances.
Anyway, I haven't fully decided what I believe, at least for the moment. But I do think even if global warming isn't real, that doesn't in any way lessen human responsibility for destroying large portions of our environment. On the other hand, if the assertion 'In fifty years our planet will reach a point beyond no return if nothing is changed' that has been widely propagated is simply an exaggeration designed for the purpose of attracting attention to environmental issues by making the danger seem more immediate, then I find that very troubling, since science, in order to be science, should always be preoccupied with finding the truth, whatever it is, whether it serves political agendas or not.
Lol, but anyway, I didn't say anything all that meaningful, but these are the things I often think about when it comes to global warming. X3 I don't know a whole lot about the science, so I end up thinking about the nature of politics and how the human mind works and learns, and in my mind floats a series of possibilities rather than a concrete opinion. But, I think those things are an important part of the subject, too.