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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Global Warming

What will a warmer future hold for Anarticas wildlife like this penguin?
What will a warmer future hold for Anartica’s wildlife like this penguin?

Climate change helped Al Gore win the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or, but in the end it will make losers out of us all. This loss comes as the planet continues to grow progressively warmer, as it has exponentially over the past 150 years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that “the best estimate of global surface temperature change is a 0.6 °C increase since the late 19th century with a 95% confidence interval of 0.4 to 0.8 °C.” Such eye-opening statistics are reflected in environmental indicators such as sea-level change (a drop of 1 millimeter/year since 1900, and 3 mm/yr since 1992) and glacial retreat.

These observed increases in climate change have also shown startling information that since the industrial revolution in around 1850, the concentration of carbon-dioxide levels spiked from a level of 280 parts per million atoms (ppm) to that of 370 ppm today. If this trend were to continue then the Earth’s carbon-dioxide levels would be expected to reach 560ppm before the end of the twenty-first century. The fear is that these numbers greatly surpass any levels seen prior to this time in world history, and that-if history serves right-the planet is long overdue for an ice-age. This conclusion stems from the fact that in the natural history of the world never has the ppm level reached as high as 370 without falling off into an ice-age. In fact, the last ice-age occurred when the Earth’s ppm concentration reached a level less than 300.

The reality of climate change can no longer be reasonably disputed, but many remain skeptical about the extent to which humans factor into the equation, or whether climate change is at all affected by human activity. This dispute has steadily lost credibility since 2001, when U.S. National Academy of Sciences released a statement agreeing with the international consensus that “greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are, in fact, rising. The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes are also a reflection of natural variability.”

Despite the accumulation of findings that support a link between human activity and global warming, there are still those who oppose the idea that drastic climate change is the result of human wrongdoing. Richard Lindzen, a professor of meteorology at MIT, who helped compile the National Academy of Science’s report, continues to speak out against the position of the IPCC that global warming is primarily caused by human interference.

“Picking holes in the IPCC is crucial. The notion that if you’re ignorant of something and somebody comes up with a wrong answer, and you have to accept that because you don’t have another wrong answer to offer is like faith healing,” said Lindzen, “it’s like quackery in medicine – if somebody says you should take jelly beans for cancer and you say that’s stupid, and he says, well can you suggest something else and you say, no, does that mean you have to go with jelly beans?”