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Primary Motivations Behind the Global Warming Debate
by tyler Sunday February 01, 2004 at 12:58 AM

Section 5 of Perspectives on Global Warming: A Primer

Primary Motivations Behind the Global Warming Debate

In the debate between those who claim global warming is a threat and must be prevented and those who claim global warming is not worth any concern, there are strong ulterior motives behind the heated arguments of both camps.

Those who claim they have solid proof of the threat to life posed by global warming, and often campaign vigorously for the acceptance of their "scientific consensus," actually possess only mildly persuasive scientific evidence. They generally try to make it seem that their knowledge is more solid, because they want to promote environmentalist policies. They feel that people are so complacent that they will refuse to cut back on their over-consumption and disregard for the environment unless they feel threatened. These scientists feel that even if global warming does not cause global catastrophe as they claim, certainly humans' "race-to-the-bottom," their wasteful attitude, will cause a great deal of misery in some way, and if experts present an apocalyptic scenario, people may change their lifestyles. Another factor in the misrepresentation of the threat of global warming is the mainstream media's tendency toward senstionalism and emphasis on all things disastrous. Media about global warming, though it rarely appears, is generally highly distorted so as to be "more exciting."

Those who claim global warming is not a threat are mostly in the same postion as those who are concerned about it, despite the fact that they often try to discredit the others for lack of scientific integrity. They also have very little legitimate evidence to back their claims, and they also make up for that loss by initiating huge public relations campaigns. For the most part, those in the "climate contrarian" camp are representatives of big industry - fossil fuels, refining, automobile manufacturing, etc. They see greenhouse gas emission reduction as a potential threat to their profits, and the economy in general, since they represent such a large part of it. They also make the argument that restrictive preventative measures will reduce the quality of life for most ordinary people, in order to satisfy the desires of the minority "ultra-environmentalists." For the most part, this group has actually done a much better job of enlisting the aid of the media. Especially since big industry has such incredible economic power, and are prominent advertisers, they do an almost flawless job of keeping any articles about the threat of global warming out of the media entirely.

The global warming debate is shaped by ideological, political, and economical issues on both sides. Each group has a specific agenda, based on their beliefs and not on their science, and they shape their findings to support this. Both groups employ public relations and propaganda, mindless repetition of claims without supporting evidence, trying to win over the masses. It is clear why this conflict has come up, but one must decide for oneself who is right, if anyone. The study of climate change has not yet earned its status of objective science.


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