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Arguments of Those Concerned About Global Warming
by tyler Sunday February 01, 2004 at 12:54 AM

Section 2 of Perspectives on Global Warming: A Primer

Arguments of Those Concerned About Global Warming

A great number of scientists, including most of those working with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a collaboration between the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme, believe that human activities are increasing the "greenhouse effect," and causing the earth's temperature to rise. They fear that the increase of "greenhouse gases," which trap heat, in the atmosphere caused by the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities could lead to a global climate catastrophe.

Climate scientists who have come to the conclusion that global warming is a threat have pursued legitimate scientific methods, but they also employ at least some guesswork. Climate is an extremely difficult object of study, because it is extremely complex. Scientists attempt to determine the workings of climate primarily by replicating different systems in computer models. The current computer models are still far from perfect, but the scientists who use them believe that the margin of error is small enough that reasonably certain predictions about future climate can be drawn from them. The predicitons they have made have been increasingly worrying.

While some have been outraged by the use of computer models which they claim to be too simplistic or just plain wrong, those who are concerned about global warming stick with them and continue modifying and improving them, hoping that every model gives a more accurate prediction than the last. Also, many feel that there are enough other scientists who have found similar results, that even though they have not figured out climate science exactly, global warming concerns still seem legitimate. Another important point made by those who believe in global warming is the fact that the possible effects are so terrible, that even if they are not completely certain that the climate will change as they predict, precautions are worth taking anyway. As climatologist Stephen Schneider notes,

"I'm not 99 percent sure, but I am 90 percent sure [that the climate is changing]. Why do we need 99 percent certainty when nothing else is that certain? If there were only a 5 percent chance the chef slipped some poison in your dessert, would you eat it?"
Those who are concerned about global warming claim that their scientific evidences and the general consensus of the scientific community are continually improving, and even if they are not completely irrefutable, at least the chance that they might be right should be enough to generate action.


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