THE ENVIRONMENT: PROS AND CONS

As previously promised, this is the first in a series of blogs dedicated to understanding the evidence and arguments on both sides of the issues most critical to our present world.  I here set forth the main arguments on each side of the issue of global warming.  The question is:  Is human activity a substantial factor in global warming?  If it is, then we owe the world our best effort to reduce our contribution to global warming.  If it is not, then we should not impose any restrictions or introduce any changes to our present activities.

I first want to refer you to a brilliant and incisive website — www.procon.org.  This site presents extensive analyses of the arguments on both sides of a long list of issues important to contemporary society.  Its contributions to these issues go far beyond what I can contribute here.  For a carefully detailed analysis of this and other important issues, I urge you to visit the site.

Secondly, I will follow, here and hereafter, a very basic structure.  I will, without comment, present the basic arguments for, and the basic arguments against, the issue in question.  I will end the blog with a short statement of my own conclusions from the arguments.

So, question:  Does human activity contribute significantly to global warming?

Both those saying yes and those saying no agree on two things.  First, global temperatures have increased by 1.4 degrees in the twentieth century.  Second, greenhouse gases (CO2 and CH4) have increased substantially in the twentieth century.

PRO:

  1. Greenhouse gases are the direct result of human behavior.
  2. These gases are causing significant global warming.
  3. If not arrested, they will cause severe damage, in the form of loss of sea ice, a rise in the sea level, greater storms and more droughts.
  4. 97.1% of all peer-reviewed scientific papers agree that humans are contributing to global warming.

CON:

  1. Human contribution to greenhouse gases is too small to change earth’s climate.
  2. The increase in greenhouse gases is due to natural processes over which we have no control.
  3. The science regarding human contribution is debatable.
  4. Taking the recommended action will hurt the economy.

My opinion:

I am not a scientist, and I must therefore rely on the research and conclusions of others.  97% of those scientists tell us that we are, by the consumption of fossil fuels, contributing to global warming and that we can, by immediate action, reduce that contribution and greatly diminish the effects that greenhouse gases are now having.

So ask yourself this.  Suppose that 100 people came to you and informed you that your house was on fire and suppose that 97 of them informed you that,, if you took immediate action, you could salvage the house, but that if you did nothing it would burn to the ground.  Suppose that the other 3 said that there was nothing you could do about it so you should just let it burn down.

What would you do?

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