The Greenhouse Effect, A Torrent of Information, and the Politics of Mass Uncertainty

1967 Words 8 Pages
The Greenhouse Effect, A Torrent of Information, and the Politics of Mass Uncertainty

Introduction: Global warming, the ozone layer, and deforestation are becoming increasingly discussed topics both in the international community and society. Former Vice-President Albert Gore stated in his 1992 book Earth in the Balance, “The process of filling the atmosphere with CO2 and other pollutants…is a willful expansion of our dysfunctional civilization into vulnerable parts of the world” (Wittwer 21). With statements like this, one might wonder what stops the human race from ending this kind of behavior. Scientists and politicians are paralyzed when addressing the issue of global warming largely from uncertainty of cause/effect
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These gases ‘trap’ heat by reflecting heat back to the surface the heat the Earth’s surface has already reflected back in the direction of space after being heated by the sun (World Book 232-233). In the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change , the observed global warming was “likely due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.” Chemistry and Industry magazine citing the preliminary report stated, “atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased 31% since 1750, and atmospheric methane by 151%” (“IPCC Says Global…Own Fault” 66). From agreement to confusion:

Scientists do not argue that increases in greenhouse gas concentration have some relationship to higher average temperatures. The consequences of further global warming are hotly contested still and stir widespread debate and disagreement. In fact, arguments over the existence of a natural cycle of climate change and climate change induced by human activity are considerably prevalent. Arguments for both beneficial and detrimental consequences of further global warming are wide-ranging. Because the plethora of arguments contributes heavily to the paralyzation of the international community it is prudent to survey some of the arguments. In June 1999, Friederike Wagner of Utrecht University and a team from Utrecht, Amsterdam and Gainesville, Florida reported in Science that levels of carbon dioxide in the air increased