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Global Warming

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It is ironic that fifty two years before hosting the 1997 United Nations Conference on Climate Change, the city of Kyoto had barely missed being destroyed. It was one of four cities considered as primary targets by President Harry Truman's secretary of war, Henry L. Stimson. The others were Kokura, Hiroshima, and Niigata. Gale E. Christianson describes Kyoto in her book Greenhouse as a magnificent city surpassed only by Tokyo in the number of its institutions of higher learning. Kyoto served as the seat of the emperor for more than 1000 years until the Imperial Household moved to Tokyo in 1868. All Japanese try to visit the city at least once in their lives. The city remains the heart of Japanese culture. Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines dominate the landscape. Japanese theater was founded in Kyoto. It was in this setting that the Nations of the world gathered to discuss the issue of global warming in late November of 1997 (Christianson 254).

From the beginning the United States was viewed as the villain. Undersecretary of State, Stuart Eizenstat, and head of the U.S. delegation, let it be known that no amount of pressure could force the administration to flinch. "We want an agreement, but we are not going to Kyoto at any cost" (qtd. in Christianson 255). Vice President Al Gore added: "We are perfectly prepared to walk away from an agreement that we don't think will work" (qtd. in Christianson 255). It was quite obvious that the United States did not want to be there - and for good reason.

The reason had everything to do with cost and benefit. The Protocols would require that the United States reduce its 2008 - 2012 overall greenhouse emissions by about a third of the current levels. The economic costs are quite significant and the benefits are not. Tom Wigley, a senior scientist at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, calculated "saved" warming under the assumption that every nation met its obligation under the Kyoto Protocol. According to his calculations, the earth's temperature in 2050 would be 0.07 ˚C lower as a result (Wigley). According to Patrick J. Michaels, a professor of environmental science at the University of Virginia, a warming of such an infinitesimal amount cannot accurately be measure on a thermometer. "The benefits of Kyoto are so minuscule

as to be immeasurable. The costs, on the other hand, are not" (Michaels 12). The effects of global warming, if any, are insignificant and do not provide concrete reasoning for a radical U.S. response. Furthermore, even if the earth is warming, it is not cause for alarm. Historic evidence supports the idea that warmer climates are beneficial for human activities, food production, and health. Cold periods have had the opposite affect.

The argument against global warming is divided into two schools of thought. The first is that scientific evidence proves that the earth is not warming and the issue has been artificially manufactured. The second school of thought is that warming is occurring. However, this warming is naturally occurring regardless of how we treat the environment and this warming is beneficial to us for a variety of reasons which I will explain.

Scientific data collected over the over the last 140 years suggesting that there is global warming has been replaced with satellites. Satellites, which measure temperatures all over the world, show no real trend in any direction, in fact in recent decades, they show a global cooling. Jerry Taylor, director of Cato Institute's Natural Resource Studies, observed that NASA satellites and weather balloons show a slight cooling trend over the past 19 years. Taylor points out that previous land based data "only unevenly covers the three quarters of the earth's surface covered by oceans and virtually ignores polar regions" (Taylor 2). University of Alabama climatologist John Christy, the originator of the satellite data, points out that the satellite data matches up almost perfectly with temperatures of the lower atmosphere taken with satellite balloons. If the satellite data are in error, then the balloons launched around the world are somehow making the same exact errors day after day (Christy).

On June 23, 1988 NASA scientist James Hansen testified before the House of Representatives that there was a "strong cause and effect relationship between observed temperatures and human emissions into the atmosphere" (qtd. in Michaels). He produced a model that predicted global temperatures between 1988 and 1997 would rise by 0.41˚C (Hansen). Ground temperatures recorded by the IPCC showed only a 0.11˚C rise or only one quarter of what Hansen predicted. According to Michaels Temperature Variations Chart, the only real change in temperature variability has been a trend toward stabilization and reduced year to year variability (Michaels). This information was gathered through the use of weather balloons and highly accurate NASA satellite information. The chart proves that we are entering an era of stable and predictable weather patterns and not the opposite.

Recent weather patterns seemingly contradict Michaels chart predictions. The summer of 1997 was considerably warmer than average. 1998 followed with an even more unbearable heat wave. Some scientists began to boast that the recent heat waves prove their theories that global warming does actually exist. Patrick Michaels points out that this warming, shown in the adjusted satellite data of 1998 is "an anomalous spike rather than a continuous warming trend. That is clear testimony to its El NinÑ... relation" (Michaels 9).

El NinĂ‘.... The boy child. Named by Spanish speaking fishermen, it was once regarded as little more than a rough current along the coasts of Peru and Ecuador around Christmas. All that changed during the winter of 1982 when sea temperatures off the coast of Peru rose by 4˚C overnight. Over the next several months El Nino was related to the deaths of over 2000 people and $13 billion dollars in damage (Christianson 222). Patrick Michaels and other scientists have tied irregular warming to this demon - El Nino.

However, El Nino has not shown this kind of wrath in the past. Why the sudden intensity of the weather pattern formerly regarded as little more than some rough current that disrupted the abundance of fish along the Peruvian coast for a month or two, every couple of years? Kevin E. Trensberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research points out that "this opens up the possibility that El Nino changes may be partly caused by observed increases in greenhouse gases" (qtd. in Christianson 224). Green house gases have been labeled as the number one cause of global warming.

Greenhouse gases occur naturally in the environment and also result from human activities.



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