Global warming deniers fail to comprehend science

Contrary to what some believe global warming is not based on speculation

It seems to be a common belief among some people that global warming is a myth, a statement based on misguided ideas about what global warming is and how it affects climate change. A very common argument against the existence of global warming is that the last few winters have been very cold, so clearly the Earth cannot be growing warmer.

I think Bill Maher explained this mistaken theory best on “Real Time with Bill Maher” in 2010.

“Even scarier is why people have stopped thinking global warming is real,” Maher said. “One major reason, pollsters say, is ‘we had a very cold, snowy winter,’ which is like saying the sun might not be real because last night it got dark.”

Misplaced theories aside, global warming is not the result of speculation and guesswork (like the theories against it are), but actual scientific research.

According to the NASA website, Earth’s climate has changed drastically throughout its history. Seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat have occurred in the last 650,000 years, largely due to variations in Earth’s orbit and the solar energy it receives. However, the last 13,000 years have shown an unprecedented amount of glacial melting.

In the 1860s, Physicist John Tyndall discovered carbon dioxide traps heat, and stated that variations in the climate brought on by human-created emissions could affect the climate. Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius further substantiated this claim in 1896 when he published a paper speculating that increased levels of CO2 could create a dramatic change in surface temperature brought on by the greenhouse effect.

Dissenters argue that human-induced CO2 emissions are not enough to affect the climate, pointing out that volcanoes emit more CO2 than heavy industry.

Not true. According to the U.S. Geological Survey website “Human activities, responsible for a projected 35 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions in 2010, release an amount of CO2 that dwarfs the annual CO2 emissions of all the world’s degassing subaerial and submarine volcanoes.”

To put it numerically, the full amount of industrial CO2 emissions on Earth are at least 80 times greater than the emissions from all the active volcanoes on our planet in an average year.

According to the NASA website, the result of these emissions create a rise in global temperature, a rise in sea level, warming oceans, shrinking ice sheets, glacial retreat, declining arctic sea ice, ocean acidification, decreased snow cover and extreme weather events.

People who deny these claims are either ignorant of extensive scientific research (that arguably began in the 19th century) or simply refuse to accept the truth out of fear of what these findings mean for the future of the human race. Either way, too many people are making claims that have no basis in fact. The expression of certain points of view is an essential part of human thought and interaction, but people who express such points of view need to base such ideas on facts, not on something they heard or read on a blog somewhere.

More ridiculous is that this debate even exists in the first place. It is basically an argument between scientists who back their claims with research and non-scientists who back their claims with misinformation and personal opinion. This is not opinion versus opinion. It is fact versus fiction. Perhaps these people could displace the energy they spend denying the truth and use it to actually help reduce their personal contribution to CO2 emissions.