Global warming talk cools down

Global warming has been a hot topic for a substantial part of the 21st century so far. However, does global warming actually deserve all these water-cooler chats and front page headlines? Some scientists and critics are convinced global warming is all hooey, but more have the evidence to prove that the melting ice caps and longer summers are effects of a rising global temperature due to anthropogenic reasons.

The term "global warming" refers to an increase in the earth's atmospheric and oceanic temperatures that is widely predicted to occur due to an increase in the greenhouse effect, which is mostly caused by pollution and greenhouse gases. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press recently found that only 35 percent of people, recently surveyed, see global warming as a very serious problem as opposed to 44 percent back in April of 2008. Furthermore, the Research Center also found that only 57 percent of the 1500 adults surveyed believe there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been rising over the past few decades. Yet, in April 2008, 71 percent of this sample population believed there is solid evidence of rising global temperatures.

At the same time, prominent scientists warn that the world can expect decades of disruptive climate patterns, rising sea levels, drought and famine if the gas concentration exceeds the upper limit for heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a number they believe to be 350 parts per million. The current concentration of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 387 parts per million. Though climate change campaigners and some prominent scientists from all over the world emphasize the importance of keeping carbon dioxide levels at 350 parts per million, other scientists and economists believe 350 to be unrealistic and discouraging. Michael Oppenheimer, a scientist who previously worked for the Environmental Defense Fund, told The New York Times that it would be a Herculean accomplishment to hold concentrations below even 450 parts per million in the coming decades. However, environmental author and activist, Bill McKibben told the Times that the goal of 350 is simply used to build a "global community" for climate change action.

It's not just the scientists; activists are acting against global warming. They have utilized many attention-grabbing tactics, such as posing nude on a Swiss glacier and scaling smokestacks of coal-fired power plants. This past Saturday, more than 4300 people participated in the International Day of Climate Action by demonstrating all over the world, from the Himalayas to New York City's Times Square.

As an avid global warming conversationalist, I personally do not encounter people who are confused or conflicted as to whether global warming exists. Instead, most of my peers and professors are sure that global temperatures are rising due to a change in society's economic and lifestyle activities resulting in an increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Unsurprisingly though, many of my peers admit that given how intangible and far away the global warming effects are, they tend to be mostly apathetic of their wasteful actions and "unsustainable" lifestyles.

For them, there are more imminent issues which affect them more directly. Issues such as a debilitating wars overseas, a sky-rocketing unemployment rate and substantially less and more complex opportunities have a higher priority over supporting global warming legislation. Nevertheless, global warming is a near-existential issue for many people on this planet. And the "lucky" ones will not be able to continue playing their fiddles while the Titanic is sinking. No one has the luxury of being able to ignore this issue without being adversely affected, sooner or later.


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