I found this article the other day and thought it was an interesting discussion. The title of the article is What Problems Demand Sciences Attention Right Now. I guess it is not so much an article as a discussion from posts.
Before I started to scroll through the posts my immediate first thought was global warming, that is the biggest problem that science needs to figure out right now, or so I thought. I will admit that I have not done as much research on the subject that I normally would and by not as much I mean zero. I try not to listen to all the media saying one thing or the other until I have some of my own opinions to back it up. It is funny because for every article you find saying one thing there is another says just the opposite. So it is very hard to form an opinion. But funny thing is that I have a friend who is actually a real meteorologist. He went to college and graduated with a degree in meteorology and does meteorological stuff for a living and no he is not the guy on your local weather station. There are meteorologists that are not on TV believe it or not. I have changed his name for the interview below.
Ernest, do you think humans are responsible for global warming? If so what data or facts do you support that prove that is the case?
First the question assumes the globe is warming, which is good because measurements suggest it is and quickly. I am glad you didn’t say climate change, which is often mixed up with global warming. The climate is always changing and always has. Global warming suggest it is changing in one direction and based on measurements it is changing quickly. There is no shortage of research on global warming out there, and the more it comes in the more the research is pointing the finger at human influence. The science behind human induced warming is simple and based on 2 undisputed facts. Green house gasses warm the planet (without them life as we know it does not exist) and human activity is adding more GHGs. Problem is the way things work between the earth, atmosphere, and ocean is not all that simple. So more of what makes the globe warmer does not necessarily mean warmer temperatures.
The biggest proponent out there suggesting it is human influence causing the warming would be climate models. I’ll do my best to explain this. Climate models are first run for previous decades and centuries, because we roughly know what happened. Using all the details we know about the solar-earth-oceanic-atmospheric system the models try and predict climate averages over a long period of time. The models are consistently low on temperature predictions after GHGs sky rocketed, until scientist input the increased GHGs from humans. Then the increase in temperatures since GHGs sky rocketed are predicted by the models. Thus the only way climate models can explain this increase in global temperatures is by the increased GHGs from human activity. This points the finger almost solely at humans.
The problem with taking this as gospel and running with it is that climate models are not perfect, far from it in fact. The problems with climate models are the same ones suffered by short term forecast models. They make a great deal of assumptions, the data going in is not fully representative of the spacial area and is not entirely correct, and lastly but most importantly we don’t know everything.
With all that said the proof given from the models can’t be thrown out, look how far short term forecasting has come. The issue with either placing blame on humans or not is that we may never know what is causing the warming. This is not your typical science experiment where we can remove human influence from the equation and see if the climate reacts the same. It is a question that likely will never be answered. From this the question for us becomes how much does the climate have to change before we accept the blame, or if more warming does not occur how long will it take for us to accept forces beyond our control govern our climate?
Do you think the media has blown this out of control or is it a legitimate concern for life on the planet?
It is not just the media, but worst of all politicians that have taken this subject over. They are blowing it out of proportion and sweeping the issue under the rug at the same time. Any voice on the science and causes of global warming that is not a scientific voice is a negative and only worsens the situation. As for whether or not climate changing for the warmer is bad or not is tough to tell. For some places it will be life threatening and for others good, but for most no one knows what the effect will be.
Is there any evidence to support that the warming is due to anything other than human intervention?
I feel I addressed question 3 in answer 1. But if you want an answer there is absolutely the possibility that a natural cause is influencing the warming. Like I said we don’t know everything about our world.
Thank you, Ernest for taking the time to answer some questions about global warming.
So after all that back to the article. I scrolled through the posts most said global warming but a large amount said green sustainable energy as the number one problem and in a strong third was clean drinking water. After reading the posts I had to change my opinion on what I thought was the most immediate need. I feel that if we can somehow solve that problem of clean energy I think that will fix a ton of other issues we are having on the planet such as pollution and deforestation.
I have mentioned in another post Tesla’s ideas for a sustainable global power system but again I do not know an electrical engineer or enough about that field to say that that solution could be a viable answer. I think that sustainable energy is the number one threat to mankind’s existence on the planet. Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on when it comes to the global warming debate, if we can solve the energy crisis many of our other issues could start to fade away.