Climate change can no longer be denied... And action can no longer be delayed. – U.S> President Barack Obama, 2015
As reflected in the epigraph above, there is a growing consensus among climatologists that anthropogenic activities have caused the entire world to become hotter and some experts even caution that the balance scale may have already been tipped and global warming will continue unabated for the foreseeable future. Some scientists, however, maintain that the current trends in global warming are a natural part of the cycles the earth goes through over the millennia and suggest that the warning calls concerning global warming are vastly overstated. To determine the facts concerning this vitally important issue that affects all humankind, this paper reviews the relevant literature about global warming and its implications for the future. Finally, a summary of the research and important findings about global warming are presented in the conclusion.
Review and Discussion
A growing body of evidence indicates that anthropogenic activities since the Industrial Revolution and more recently since the end of World War II have poured millions and millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere, thereby trapping more radiant heat and causing the earth to become hotter (Li, 2016). According to one climatologist, “As scientific evidence shows, the increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is attributable to human activities since WWII, leading to global warming, rising sea levels, and more frequent occurrences of extreme weather” (Li, 2016, p. 46). The scientific community has emphasized the urgency of the situation and has sounded clarion calls action to avoid the devastating effects of global warming for humanity (Li, 2016).
Despite the growing alarms being sounded by some members of the scientific community, not all experts agree that global warming represents a legitimate threat. For instance, according to Kennel (2015), “The global average temperature seems not to have changed as much since 1998 as before, although about 28% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) added to the atmosphere by human activities, largely fossil fuel burning, has been added since 1998” (p. 367). The less rapid pace of global warming which has been termed a “hiatus” has been cited as a reason for continuing to use fossil fuels unless and until viable alternatives are developed (Kennel, 2015).
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Yet other authorities charge that current efforts to address global warming are being fueled by political rhetoric rather than being based on actual scientific evidence. For instance, Terrell (2015) advises that, “There is so much unfair reporting that comes from the mainstream media, and climate change is being influenced more by politics than actual climate science” (p. 30).
Other authorities, though, counter that there has not been any substantive slowdown in global warming trends and assertions to the contrary have been based on incomplete or inaccurate data. In this regard, Sumner (2015) reports that, “Following decades of warming and a hot 1998, Earth's average surface temperature seemingly plateaued. This warming hiatus, as it came to be known, had climate researchers scrambling for an explanation” (p. 6). More recent studies conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicate that the global warming hiatus was an “artifact of incomplete and biased data” (Sumner, 2015, p. 6). Likewise, Botkin-Kowacki (2015) suggests that the reports concerning a hiatus in global warming were misguided and have only served to divert attention from what could become a global catastrophe. For instance, Botkin-Kowacki (2015) notes that, “Many climate scientists have observed that, since 1998 or so, the rise of global temperatures had stopped, or at least slowed down, in what has been variously called climate change's ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus.’ But, there was no global warming ‘hiatus’” (p. 37).
The more recent studies conducted by NOAA paint a very different picture from a hiatus, and the new data indicates that the rate of global warming during the period from 1998 to 2012 increased from 0.039 to 0.086 degrees per decade, a rate that is comparable to the last 50 years of the 20th century (Sumner, 2015). Moreover, there is also other clear evidence that the world is becoming hotter. In this regard, Smallman and Brown….....