Climate change has plagued the news since the 1990s. With shocking headlines and terrifying statistics, citizens have feared the worse. However, to what extent are these so-called facts and figures true? Are we, man-kind really the ‘dominant cause of global warming’ as a BBC article stated in 2013?
Scientists in leading journals have debated issues regarding climate change for many years. Yes, there is no doubt that empirically measured facts are valid, but we need to look at the findings from a different perspective. Instead of taking news articles at face value, we must look at how the data was collected and if it is skewed. More importantly, has the article analysed all points of view or is the author merely focusing on the fact that we are doomed and immoral agents.
On some occasions, scientists, journalist or reporters are commissioned to find out a certain fact. Therefore, they may manipulate the data in order to demonstrate what they think will make a good story. For example, Al Gore the American environmentalist ‘cherry-picked’ specific data showing humans to directly cause the increase in temperatures over the past 100 years. He failed to mention natural cycles such as orbital variations which also could have played a role in the changing climate. Empirical data does not lie, but the way it is graphed, manipulated or displayed may be an exaggeration of the truth.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) wrote that sea levels have risen 19cm between 1900 and 2000. While initially we may be utterly outraged and petrified at this fact. We must consider to what extent the sea levels would have risen regardless of human actions. While it is almost certain that we have increased the melting of our ice caps through industrialisation and the speeding up of the greenhouse effect; rising sea-level is also a natural process. Our planet has gone through cycles of glacial and non-glacial periods. We are currently, coming out of a glaciation period and so melting of ice-caps may have occurred any way. It may be happening due to tectonic plate movements. However, other sources differ. For example, an article in the New Scientist published in 2010 states that sea levels are rising at a rate of 0.3 millimetres per year due to melting ice caps. With all these conflicting sources how do we find out the truth about climate change?
There are facts that we as mankind do know. For example, the temperatures have risen in the past 100 years, as have the levels of Carbon Dioxide. It is up to us individually to make our own conclusions if this correlation equates to causation. Did the increase in C02 from the industrial revolution cause the global temperature to rise or are other factors involved? Personally I would say, we as man-kind have sped up the warming of our planet through the use of fossil fuels. Empirical evidence clearly shows the ice caps melting, temperatures increasing and sea levels rising. While natural processes can cause this to occur.
Global warming is a pressing issue for our generation; it is important to read articles critically, fully assessing their credibility, before making conclusions.