On my tour of the Canadian right yesterday, I gathered reaction from a few of the blogs I mentioned briefly. I guess that's one of the problems of hitting such hot button topics in a single paragraph. So, in fairness to what were some well developed arguments, I'm going to delve into them in a bit more detail. I'll start with Andrew's climate change piece at Bound by Gravity.
First of all, a few tid-bits on climate change I quickly dug out of an old Globe & Mail supplement (Global Warning, December 17, 2004):
-Since 1990 the world has logged the warmest 10 years on record
-"A landmark international scientific study of Arctic climate change confirms the Arctic is warming more rapidly than the rest of the globe and strengthens the link between climate change and greenhouse gases from human activity. The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), which projects global climate disruptions, reinforces the urgency of mitigating and adapting to global warming. The ACIAs findings and projected impacts are based on observed data and a moderate scenario of future warning, not a worst-case scenario."
Now, this was a little thin on numbers, so I ran a quick google and came up with a few other stats:
The Environmental Media Services website lists eight different groups who confirm the link between human emissions and global warming. Among the highlights:
The governing council of the American Geophysical Union unanimously adopted a resolution in December 2003 stating that "human activities are increasingly altering the Earth's climate... Scientific evidence strongly indicates that natural influences cannot explain the rapid increase in global near-surface temperatures observed during the second half of the 20th century."
According to John Houghton, co-chair of the IPCC, no more than ten of at least 3000 international climate scientists reject the idea that greenhouse gas emissions are causing the planet to warm.
3.2. They project for the next century that, without specific policy changes :
· global mean temperature should increase by between 1.4 and 5.8°C (2.5 to 10°F).
Now, with that aside, I'll wade into Andrew's specific points he raises in his article:
1. His main contention comes from the graph posted that shows climate change over the past 1000 years. My main problem with the graph as it does not appear to cover the last 50 years (or, if it does, it's not clear) when the most serious global warming has occurred. From the "Union of Concerned Scientists", global temperatures have rise by 0.6 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years and 0.3 degrees Celsius over the past 40 years. This strikes me as a dramatic rise compared to the 300 years it took the world to warm 0.5 degrees in the Medieval Warming Period. More concerning are the previously stated projects which put global warming in the next century between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees Celsius. But, to be fair, those are only projections.
2. Climate change occurs naturally. Yes, this is true. No one will argue this. But science shows that CO2 levels in the atmosphere accelerate this warming. So even if we're naturally warming, we're making things worse.
3. Human emissions are a small percentage of total levels. Didn't Ralph Klein make some comment about dinosaur farts causing global warming a few years back? If not, then it sounds like something he'd say so I'm just going to assume he did. Ralph did have a point on this one. There are tons of CO2 emissions which naturally occur. I encourage everyone to check out this site which explains things far more clearly than I could...I never got great marks in Biology. The gist of what they're saying is that plants, by turning CO2 into Oxygen (I do remember that from grade 10 bio!), keep the natural equilibrium in balance. By adding extra human emissions, we're breaking the equilibrium. Humans have caused the natural level of CO2 to rise by 31% since 1750. So, if you accept the science that CO2 levels cause a "greenhouse effect", you have to accept that we're to blame for it.
Big Huge Flaming Caveat of my Own: Andrew concedes there are environmental problems out there that need to be addressed. Good on him for that. I'd much rather the government do something concrete to fix the environment than sign a treaty it has no desire to respect or do anything about.