This Research Paper is lovingly dedicated to our respective parents who have been our constant source of inspiration. They have given us the drive and discipline to tackle any task with enthusiasm and determination. Without their love and support this project would not have been made possible. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT We would like to acknowledge the contributions of the following group and individuals to the development of this research paper: Our class peer research group for the cooperation and camaraderie.
We are also heartily thankful to our teacher, Mr. /Ms. _____, whose encouragement, guidance and support from the initial to the final level enabled us to develop an understanding of the subject. To our truly great friend Don who has made available his support in a number of ways. Lastly, We offer our regards and blessings to all of those who supported us in any respect during the completion of the project. Name of Students Here 1 ABSTRACT The surface of the earth has been warming, the average temperature increasing, for several years. People studying this do not agree on the cause of the warming trend.
Some say that man has caused the change; others claim that it is a natural trend. If some environmentalists are to be believed, we are on the verge of massive global climate change which will see a significant rise in sea levels, chaotic weather patterns, and catastrophic droughts all caused by small increase in global average temperature. Whether global warming is a problem that can be dealt with, will depend not only on the ways that are available to governments and people to act but also on their will to act in response to this environmental change. INTRODUCTION
Man-made pollution is evident; from litter in local streams to plumes of carbon dense smoke billowing out of power plants, it has become apparent sustainability is not a priority. In addition, our resources are being used and abused much faster than the earth can replenish and recover. Recently, this abuse on Mother Nature has become a topic of great interest. Known as the “green movement”, advocates stress awareness of waste and pollution and its effect on the environment. The most publicized consequence of our non-earth friendly actions is global warming.
This theory is blindly adopted with little scientific evidence because it justifies the worlds’ need to go green. When the overwhelming facts concerning greenhouse gasses and the sheer amount of waste humans produce is taken into account, there is no wonder global warming is justified in peoples’ minds. Although human induced global warming is a popular theory, it is misleading because climate change has occurred throughout history, our most recent period of warming ended over ten years ago, and the earth is currently in a state of cooling. 2 RATIONALS AND BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Climate change is nothing new. In the life span of earth, a climate where humans could and have inhabited the planted are mere smudges on its’ climate time line. Starting with the big bang over 13. 7 billion years ago, the earth has experienced cycles of hot flashes and freezing spells (Global Warming and Global Cooling, 2007, p. 2). As recently as 650 million years ago the earth was frozen solid. This period of 10 million years is known as snowball earth. After this period, volcanoes began to erupt producing greenhouse gases, which warmed the earth.
Over the next 400 million years, global temperatures rose and fell allowing for small life forms to succeed. Plants, cold-blooded animals, and insects did well during this time. Then, quite suddenly, there was mass extinction. Over 95% of the earth’s species died due to flood basalt eruptions lasting for one million years. The earths’ temperatures rose an impressive 18oF due to a 700% increase of CO2 during this time. It then took 195 billion years for the blanked of CO2 to dissipate and earth to cool, once again allowing inhabitants.
At 55 million years ago another 200F increase occurred due to increased methane gas. Over the next 40 million years, temperatures continued to fluctuate, allowing for the polar ice caps to expand and retreat. Since, the climate has stayed relatively stable with only a single ice age. When temperatures warmed, woolly mammoths that thrived during the ice age and other mega mammals could not survive, while humans where able to adapt (A Global Warning? , 2007). However, it would be naive to thinking climate change would miraculously come to a stop on behalf of human inhabitation.
The above-mentioned changes had drastic effects on the earth. Recently there has been less drastic, however still noticeable, climate fluctuations. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM For several years believers and skeptics have argued about the causes of global warming. The problem is complicated because believers warn that man-made causes if left to advance too far may be irreversible. Reduction of the rainforests, continued growth in hydrocarbon industries, increases in livestock, and depletion of the ozone are all considered factors in the debate.
Skeptics maintain that the climate change is a natural phenomenon, that man’s effect on nature is largely overrated. The fact is that for several years, the earth’s temperature is rising. The problem remains in deciding what if anything we can do about it. 3 SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS All research studies also have limitations and a finite scope. In our case, limitations are more on time and budget constraints. Information and data were gathered from various sources including the internet. Conducting scientific studies and experiments on a global scale would be next to impossible for high school students like us.
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK The most recognized examples of modern climate change are known as the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age. The Medieval Warming Period (MWP) took place between 800 and 1300 AD and consisted of temperatures up to 5oF warmer than today. These temperatures played a huge role in history, as it was what allowed the Vikings to colonize Greenland. Although it is currently being debated, this period of warmth could have been global. If so, the slightly elevated temperatures seen over the last thirty years would not be unprecedented.
Following the MWP was the Little Ice Age (LIA). This period consisted of three consecutive cold spikes with slightly warmer periods in-between. These spikes occurred at about 1650,1770, and 1850 and are well documented in North America and Europe. As with the MWP, it is debatable whether these were global events (Natural and anthropogenic climate change, 2004). Regardless, a correlation between temperature and sun spot activity known as the Maunder Minimum developed with help from observations from that time (An imperative for climate change planning, 2009).
Not only do these historical events contradict the current theory of man-mad global warming; the research gained from these events brings to light other justification for natural occurring climate change. 4 DEFINITION OF TERMS For the purpose of this research, the following terms are hereby defined: greenhouse gas (sometimes abbreviated GHG) is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. reenhouse effect is a process by which thermal radiation from a planetary surface is absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases, and is re-radiated in all directions. Since part of this re-radiation is back towards the surface, energy is transferred to the surface and the lower atmosphere. As a result, the temperature there is higher than it would be if direct heating by solar radiation were the only warming mechanism. global warming is the increase in the average temperature of Earth’s near-surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century and its projected continuation.
CO2 emission or carbon dioxide emission is the amount of carbon dioxide released. sunspots are temporary phenomena on the photosphere of the Sun that appear visibly as dark spots compared to surrounding regions. They are caused by intense magnetic activity, which inhibits convection by an effect comparable at the eddy current brake, forming areas of reduced surface temperature. NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration: an independent agency of the United States government responsible for aviation and spaceflight. 5 BODY OF THE RESEARCH
There is no doubt the earth has and will continue to experience periods of warming. Our most recent period began in the 1900s and lasted through the year 2000. “Research results show that the sun, which began brightening 100-150 years ago, may be the strongest it has been in 1,000 years. This increased brightness is due to sunspots. It is not crystal clear as to the correlation between sunspots and climate change, however, a rough assumption is that the more sun spots there are, the brighter it is, and there for more heat is produced.
In addition, sunspots create a magnetic cycle that has been found to correlate with the Northern Hemisphere land temperatures (Global Warming: Sun Takes Some Heat, 2004). The important thing to note is the date attached to the above data. At that time the earth was in fact warming. Since the early 2000s, data has shown the earth is once again cooling. According to NASA, sunspots are on the decline; out of the 365 days in 2008, 266 where sunspot free. This was though to be an all time low since 1913, but low and behold 2009 came a round with 87% of the days sunspot free.
The graph accompanying the article depicts a peak in solar activity right around 2000, with a sharp decline predicted through 2012. Other studies have found similar evidence. In the journal Energy Sources, Part A: Recovery, Utilization, and Environmental Effects a study was published analyzing the affects of CO2 and the atmosphere. The scientists concluded “relatively short-term variations in global temperature are mainly caused by the variations in solar activity and are not linked to the changes in carbon dioxide content in [the] atmosphere”(Cooling of Atmosphere, 2008).
The recent cooling and previous period of warming are considered short-term temperature changes and cannot be sited for significant data. However, events like the Little Ice Age have more historical bearing. 500 years is a much more substantial duration of time, yet still trivial in comparison to the earths’ first ice age of one million years. As the worlds’ reliance on fossil fuels increases, so do the byproducts of consumerism. Ever increasing amounts of CO2 and other green house gasses are being admitted into the atmosphere as more cars are on the road and more energy is being produced.
Previously, CO2 billowing out of volcanoes was responsible for drastic temperature changes. At times the earth was more than 20oF warmer than it is now. This is poor support for global warming theorists however. The volcanic eruptions responsible for the warming occurred over the course of 6 thousands of years. These endless eruptions covered the majority of the earth in molten lava and produced miles of thick carbon (A Global Warning? , 2007). This scene is unfathomable for humans and is in no way comparable to the current levels of CO2 found in the atmosphere.
CONCLUSION It is clear there is little concrete scientific evidence to support or deny global warming. What can be confirmed is that climate change is inevitable. Some studies have gone as far as to say the increase in CO2 leads to cooling, not warming. This conclusion has a simple physical explanation: when the infrared radiation is absorbed by the molecules of greenhouse gases, its energy is transformed into thermal expansion of air, which causes convective fluxes of air masses restoring the adiabatic distribution of temperature in the troposphere.
Our estimates show that release of small amounts of carbon dioxide (several hundreds ppm), which are typical for the scope of anthropogenic emission, does not influence the global temperature of Earth’s atmosphere (Cooling of Atmosphere, 2008). SOLUTION AND RECOMMENDATION f this subject is studied further and found to be true, there is no doubt a wrench will be thrown in this crucial argument. With compelling, yet questionable evidence for those who agree and disagree with the theory of global warming. There is no doubt the debate will continue as more research is performed and time goes on. 7
There is no question global warming is a complex issue, however it is nothing new. Throughout history extreme climate has been normal. Regardless of what man kind has done byway of contamination, the earth will continue about its’ climate cycles without batting an eye. Human life is a fluke, developed from ideal conditions in an inhabitable environment. Humans are but insignificant guest in this world who have failed to respect their hostess. They have polluted and contaminated the environment, but the earth will power on. The current climate fluctuations are not significant enough to draw conclusions on.
Be it another ice age or incinerating heat, the tectonic plates will shift, the volcanoes will erupt and over millions of years people will be but a memory. However, humans are the earths’ current inhabitants. To continue to live, sustainability must be kept in mind. Research is contradictory on the subject of climate change, however there is no denying, the earth is its own entity, unbound by the actions of man. Humans are but innocent bystanders of earth’s natural climate change. References Baliunas, S. (1999, August 5). Why So Hot? Don’t Blame Man, Blame the Sun. The Wall Street journal, 18.
Chilingar, G. V. , Khilyuk, L. F. , & Sorokhtin, O. G. (2008, January). Cooling of Atmosphere Due to CO2 Emission. Energy Sources Part A: Recovery, Utilization & Environmental Effects, 30(1), 1-9. doi:10. 1080/? 15567030701568727 Deep Solar Minimum . (2009, April 1). National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Retrieved April 3, 2010, from NASA website: http://science. nasa. gov/? science-news/? science-at-nasa/? 2009/? 01apr_deepsolarminimum/ Diffenbaugh, N. S. (2009, December). Influence of modern land cover on the climate of the United States. Climate Dynamics, 33(7), 945-958. doi:10. 007/? s00382-009-0566-z Global Warming: Sun Takes Some Heat. (2004, October). Environment, 46(8), 7. Retrieved from http://p8333-metalib5. hosted. exlibrisgroup. com. proxy. library. uaf. edu/? V/? QRRXDVTGAV9K6FN15KYB3N4LT6JFNFQ8IGB5IM6FAFVQKR6DVM-02659? func=quick-3&short-format=002&set_number=000499&set_entry=000001&format=999 Hanlon, M. (2005, May 19). Climate Change. Nature, 435(7040), 384. doi:10. 1038/? 435384a 8 Hulme, M. (2009). Why we disagree about climate change. New York,NY: Cambridge University Press. Kohler, P. , Bintanja, R. , Fischer, H. , Joos, F. , Knutti, R. Lohmann, G. , & Masson-Delmotte, V. (2010, January). What caused Earth’s temperature variations during the last 800,000 years? Data-based evidence on radiative forcing and constraints on climate sensitivity. . Quaternary Science Reviews, 29(1), 129-145. doi:10. 1016/? j. quascirev. 2009. 09. 026 Levitt, S. D. , & Dubner, S. J. (2009). Superfreakonomics. New York,NY: HarperCollins. Marsh, S. (Producer), & Hearle, A. (Director). (2007). A Global Warning? [Motion picture]. United States : A&E Television Networks. Mathews, H. D. , Weaver, A. J. , Meissner, K. J. , Gillett, N. P. & Eby, M. (2004, May). Natural and anthropogenic climate change: incorporating historical land cover change, vegetation dynamics and the global carbon cycle. Climate Dynamics, 22(5), 461-479. doi:10. 1007/? s00382-004-0392-2 Melezhik, V. A. (2006, April). Multiple causes of Earth’s earliest global glaciation. Terra Nova, 18(2), 130-137. doi:10. 1111/? j. 1365-3121. 2006. 00672. x Michaelowa, A. (2009, December). Limiting Global Cooling after Global Warming is Over — Differentiating Between Short- and Long-Lived Greenhouse Gases. OPEC Review: Energy Economics & Related Issues, 24(4), 343-351. oi:10. 1111/? j. 0277-0180. 2003. 00075. x Qlan, L. , Burns, A. , Solomon, S. C. , & Roble, R. (2009, October). The effect of carbon dioxide cooling on trends in the F2-layer ionosphere. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, 71(14), 1592-1601. doi:10. 1016/? j. jastp. 2009. 03. 006 Reilly, M. (2006, October 7). Cooling oceans buck global trend. The New Scientist, 192(2572), 14. doi:10. 1016/? S0262-4079(06)60643-X Sorokhtin, O. G. , Chilingar, G. V. , & Khilyuk, L. F. (2007). Global Warming and Global Cooling: Evolution of climate on earth. The Netherlands: ELSEVIER.
Trenberth, K. E. (2009, October 3). An imperative for climate change planning: tracking Earth’s global energy. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 1(1), 19-27. doi:10. 1016/? j. cosust. 2009. 06. 001 Walker, S. M. (2009). We are the weather makers: the history of climate change. Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick press. 9 Questionaire 1. Is global warming a problem? The answer to this question is a resounding …. maybe. The reason I say maybe is that the debate over global warming is a mix of solid scientific facts and subjective interpretations of those facts.
Aside from the uncertainties in the scientific information on the physical aspects of global warming, there is considerable ‘wiggle room’ for a wide range of subjective interpretations of the science and the implications of its uncertainties. 2. Is global warming happening, as we speak? It appears that all observers agree that the global climate has warmed up in the past few decades. However, some argue that the warming began with the onset of the Industrial Revolution, in the early 1800s, and continues today.
They agree that there have been ups and downs in the trends of global average temperature, but those fluctuations do not undermine the basic tenet that the global climate is warmer today than in past decades. Others (the “naysayers” or non-believers in climate change) agree that there is a warming trend over the past few decades but that the variability of recent global climate falls within the range that might be expected from the behavior of “normal” climatic conditions over longer periods of time, such as centuries. Thus, they downplay the view that human activities are affecting global climate. 3.
Is the scientific information in hand today strong enough to prompt societies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? There is still considerable uncertainty in the science of climate change and its potential impacts on societies and ecosystems. Whether what is known is enough to prompt action by governments, different sectors of society, or individuals will likely depend on whether the decision-makers are either risk-takers or risk-averse. Some will argue that it would be more prudent to be safe than sorry and will thus try to prevent the continued buildup of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere.
The opposing view, held by those who are willing to take the risk for themselves (while making the risk for others), demands more certainty in the science. Deep down, they feel that in the event their view turns out to have been wrong, technologies can be developed to get rid of or at least control the problem (i. e. , the technological fix). 10 4. Is human activity involved in the global warming trend of the past century and a half? There is convincing and mounting evidence that human activities related to industrial processes and deforestation are altering the global climate.
It has been shown that human activities can alter climate on a local and regional scale. Why not on the global scale as well? The naysayers cannot accept that there might be such a potent human influence on the atmosphere. They argue that the fingerprint of human activity is non-existent and that what we are seeing is a natural variation in global temperatures. They argue that the global climate, since the end of the 18th century, has been rebounding from the “Little Ice Age,” which lasted from the 1500s to the 1800s. 5.
Is any country really committed to dealing with national GHG reductions, even in the absence of other countries doing so? There is considerable discussion about the responsibilities of nations to reduce their output of GHGs. While some governments agree that there must be cuts in GHG emissions, others oppose such cuts as unwarranted for a variety of political, economic, or ideological reasons. Some governments have taken the lead on the reduction issue by calling on all governments to lower their GHG emissions. However, it seems that there is more discussion thus far than action.
There are proposals to trade permits among countries, permits that allow those who can afford it to buy up the unused permits from other countries. But is this a fair solution? Or, is it a case of the rich countries buying away from the developing countries their legal right to pollute the global atmosphere with increasing amounts of GHGs? 6. Are climate extremes and other climate-related anomalies reliably connected to global warming? Speculation abounds about the impacts on the frequency, intensity, duration and location of climate extremes and climate-related impacts of GHGs.
However, the attribution of cause and effect with regard to global warming remains a difficult issue that merits much more attention than it has been getting from the climate research community. The media, the general public, policy-makers, and even scientists have been rather lax in what climate-related impacts they attribute to human-induced global warming of the atmosphere. 7. Is global warming the type of creeping environmental problem that can be met with graduated societal responses?
One could argue that global warming is a creeping environmental change. “Creeping” means it is an incremental change that is only marginally detectable from one year to the next. Today’s 11 atmospheric content of GHGs is not much different from yesterday’s. Tomorrow’s is not much different than today’s. However, in a few years, those incremental changes will have added up to a major environmental change. Often by the time those changes have combined, the environmental change will have turned into an environmental crisis.
In this regard, global warming is similar to other creeping environmental changes such as air pollution, acid rain, ozone depletion, soil erosion, deforestation, and so forth. Unfortunately, graduated societal responses to slowly compounding environmental changes may not resolve the problem. Dealing with such problems requires getting ahead of them, that is; leap-frogging over the near future to gain a glimpse of how the creeping changes will likely evolve in the future, given no attempts to arrest them.
One might then be able to see that there is a need to respond more quickly and effectively in bringing an end to a seemingly unimportant creeping environmental change. 8. Who is responsible for our current predicament, if global warming is agreed to by all as happening as a result of GHG emissions due to human activities? Global warming scientists contend that the industrialized countries are responsible for the large increases in GHGs in the atmosphere since the onset of the Industrial Revolution.
They also contend that the developing countries will become the dominant emitters of GHGs in the future as a result of their development activities, including the increased burning of fossil fuels, increased tropical deforestation, and, in general, an increase in affluence. Industrialized countries argue that all countries should seek to reduce GHG emissions, since all countries are likely to suffer the impacts of global warming. A change in the status quo of the global climate system is viewed as a bad thing, something we must all work to avoid. They call on all nations to join in the sacrifice for the betterment of future generations.
For their part, developing country representatives argue that it is the rich, industrialized nations that saturated the atmosphere with a critical amount of GHGs in the first place and, therefore, it is up to them to resolve the problem. They can choose either to drastically cut back their own emissions or provide clean energy technology to developing countries, most of which do not have the means to buy it. The problem with the issue of who is causing the “human-induced” global warming of the atmosphere is that the answer also identifies who has the first, if not primary, responsibility to resolve the problem.