Is the Globe Warming?(地球是否变暖)
作者:Jon Halpert 来源:本站原创 录入:admin 字体:
Global warming has become the hot topic in environmental politics today. From the Kyoto Protocols to the recent environmental summit in Johannesburg, suddenly much is ado about something that might be nothing. Pointing to increased iceberg sightings and American temperature fluctuations, environmental activists blast the Bush administration (though not Clinton, who wisely passed the buck) for failing to submit industry to a wave of harsh regulations that would stymie the economy and might not solve the problem, if one exists. These regulations would have the net effect of preventing the growth of the energy industry, limiting the energy resources available to other industries and overall resulting in the forced cutting of costs, i.e. the jobs that millions of working class Americans depend on. This weakening of the national economy is supposed to be in the best interest of the world. However, the activist's claims reside solely on two assumptions; first, that global temperatures are rising significantly, and second, that we are causing these changes by emitting greenhouse gases. Both are unproven.
Global warming is a phenomenon of rising average global temperatures that will lead to melting ice caps, higher seas, distorted weather patterns, and according to environmental activists, the end of the world. Is this happening? The answer is a definite maybe. There is certainly evidence of changing global climate patterns. Increasingly severe storms, droughts, and El Niño are all evidence of that. Global warming itself, however, is as yet unproven. While evidence exists showing that certain areas have suffered higher temperatures in recent years, the worldwide average tropospheric (0-5 miles above the surface) temperature, as measured by satellite, has in fact remained statistically constant since 1979 according to NASA's Global Hydrology and Climate Center. This is contrasted with recent findings that the earth is in fact absorbing more energy from the sun than it is transmitting into outer space. If true this would mean that the earth is in fact heating up, but it is not yet certain where this energy is going (some suspect it is responsible for melting ice caps). Finally, there are significant difficulties, both theoretical and technical, in simply measuring the changes in temperature. Taking a meaningful average and finding changes on the order of 0.1 degrees Celsius when the temperature in most parts of the world fluctuates by up to 40 degrees daily is almost impossible statistically. The preponderance of conflicting reports by reliable sources (it seems unlikely that NASA was bribed to lie) and the experimental difficulty of taking reasonable measurements and obtaining statistically valid results all make it difficult to conclude with certainty that global warming is a fact. Fortunately, it may not matter.
The mechanism by which the earth retains heat energy from the sun, due to current theories, is based on the concept that energy from the sun that is reflected from the ground will in turn be reflected back to earth by "greenhouse gases" such as CO2, NO2, CH4, etc. The more greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere, the more heat is retained and thus the rise in global temperatures. The environmental activists argue that the global warming phenomenon is due to increased human production of greenhouse gases. Chief among these gases is carbon dioxide, produced by the
burning of fossil fuels. The logical conclusion is then that industry must be cut back in order for global warming to abate. This deduction may be inaccurate. First, industrial production of carbon dioxide is only a small percentage of total CO2 emissions, most of which is due to biological processes in organisms and volcanic activity (of which there has been a significant increase in recent times). Secondly, CO2 is responsible for very little of the total "greenhouse effect," most of which is caused, interestingly enough, by gaseous water and atmospheric water vapor—clouds.
Even if industrial waste production were to cease entirely, no one has proven that the greenhouse effect would significantly lessen, or that it would stop global warming altogether.
The fact of the matter is that the earth is one of the largest, most complex chemical reactions known. Many of the mechanisms that account for global climate patterns are unknown or poorly understood. Even the daily weather, with 150 years of data available for study, cannot be predicted for more than a few days in the future. Small changes in atmospheric concentrations may have large impacts, for example, CFCs destroying the ozone, and large changes may be absorbed by the maintenance of equilibria, as in the carbon cycle, thus having their effects diminished. As such, no scientist has yet been able say that industrial waste production is definitely and irrefutably the cause of current aberrations in weather and climate. At best, pro-warming scientists have been able to suggest Americans "hedge their bets" and cut CO2 production. This may be sound advice. However, we cannot irreparably damage our economy and destroy millions of jobs without better evidence and definite proof. As usual science should be left to the scientists, not the activists, politicians, or lobbyists (of which there is an unhealthy abundance, both industrial AND green). Educated action is warranted only after further study and better understanding.