The Candidates Miss the Point on Global Warming

by on March 30th, 2013
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The issue of Global Warming began in 1904 when Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius first reported the effect on global climate caused by increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. For years most scientists found it difficult to believe that society could affect global temperatures. It was a hypothesis that generated little concern among environmentalists or the public.

Then in the United States, former Vice President Al Gore as a member of the House of Representatives co-sponsored the first Congressional hearings to study the implications of global warming and Global Warming developed into a political hot-button issue.

The political debates lead to Kyoto, Japan, where in December 1997 a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted. As of September 2011, 191 states and the European Union have signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol. The United States signed the agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions, but the Hagel-Byrd Resolution blocked its ratification. Other than Afghanistan, Andorra and South Sudan, the United States to this day has not ratified the protocol. Over a century later the issue has become a political football fully exploited by America’s politicians and the 2012 presidential candidates.

In 2007 , Al Gore’s controversial film An Inconvenient Truth won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. He received the Nobel Peace Prize (together with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ), further spurring the political fireworks that encompasses the issue of Global Warming.

Even Associated Content’s Mark Whittington irresponsibly adds to the negative side of the debate in his commentaries Belief in Global Warming, Not Global Warming, Causes Mental Illness and Al Gore Climate Change Rant Reveals Anger of Failed Environmental Prophet

The current field of candidates vying for the presidency of the United States, except for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Utah governor and ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, also irresponsibly believe essentially, as Michelle Bachmann believes, that Global Warming is all a conspiracy: “It’s all voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax.”

On the campaign trail President Obama quipped of Texas Governor Perry’s stance on Global Warming: “You’ve got a governor whose state is on fire denying climate change.” (Obama referring to the unrelenting wildfires plaguing Texas)

The politicization of the global warming debate does a disservice to the scientific research and debate that is earnestly taking place in the scientific community. The scientific process has become unhinged; the political debate seemingly has supplanted the findings of scientific study and is divisive and counterproductive.

In Jeff Jacoby’s column for the Boston Globe, Climate skeptics don’t ‘deny science’, he reports researchers still have no way “to reliably discriminate between manmade warming and natural warming processes,” climate scientist Roy Spencer has written. “We cannot put the Earth in a laboratory and carry out experiments on it. There is only one global warming experiment, and we are all participating in it right now.”

And that’s the real issue, not whether global warming is manmade or not.

A scientific study by Susan Solomon, an atmospheric chemist working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, claims Global Warming Is Irreversible. She says ” … if it’s irreversible, to me it seems all the more reason you might want to do something about it. Because committing to something that you can’t back out of seems to me like a step that you’d want to take even more carefully than something you thought you could reverse.”

The bottom line is we can’t afford to disregard the issue as invalid, a myth, a hoax, or attribute some other reason for ignoring it.


Daniel Sarewit and Roger Pielke Jr., Breaking the Global-Warming Gridlock, The Atlantic Magazine

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