The Instigator
Sidnix111
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
cludwig
Con (against)
Winning
1 Points

Humanity is the main cause of global warming.

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
cludwig
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/20/2015 Category: People
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 629 times Debate No: 84137
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (0)
Votes (1)

 

Sidnix111

Pro

First round is acceptance only.
cludwig

Con

I accept and look forward to the debate
Debate Round No. 1
Sidnix111

Pro

Sidnix111 forfeited this round.
cludwig

Con

In deference to my opponents forfeiture of the first round, I would make the opening statement for this debate.
I do not dispute the existence and reality of Global Warming. I do assert, however, that it is impossible to quantify on a global scale, what part of global warming is attributable to Human activities as compared to natural change. Therefore, to state that humanity is the main cause of global warming is, at time present, impossible to prove.
Geographers and Geologists consider the state of the Earth at time present to be in an ice age, albeit a late stage. This means that there have been periods in the history of the earth with less ice coverage, higher sea levels, and warmer mean global temperatures. As an example, a major component of the Glacial retreat we are witnessing today is attributable to natural rebound from the little ice age (approximately 1300 to 1850). Certainly human activity has amplified this rebound, but to what degree is indefinable. There are also many other potential amplifying factors, a few of which are listed on the Environmental Protection Agencies Website:
http://www3.epa.gov...
Note, that even this reputable website is unable to quantify human contribution vs natural causes.
I will also cite an article on the little ice-age for the benefit of my opponent:
http://www.britannica.com...
I would also refer my opponent to the regional research of Glaciologist Dr. Johannes Koch regarding glacial retreat in Garibaldi Park (and other regional locations) which document the geological evidence of glacial retreat since the Little Ice Age glacial extant. The immense role of the Little Ice Age on climate is well established in this research.
http://kochj.brandonu.ca... or http://kochj.brandonu.ca...
Debate Round No. 2
Sidnix111

Pro

First of all I would like to apologise for themy forfeiture, as my internet connection was not available for a few days. I hope that voters disregard the forfeit. My opening statements. 1) Humanity IS the main cause of global warming.The IPCC Report of 2015 states: Its extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 wascaused by the anthropogenic increase in GHG concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period . Anthro-pogenic forcings have likely made a substantial contribution to surface temperature increases since the mid-20th century over every continental region except Antarctica.. Anthropogenic influences have likely affected the global water cycle since 1960 and contributed to the retreat of glaciers since the 1960s and to the increased surface melting of the Greenland ice sheet since 1993. Anthropogenic influences have very likely contributed to Arctic sea-ice loss since 1979 and have very likely made a substantial contribution to increases in global upper ocean heat content (0""700 m) and to global mean sea level rise observed since the 1970s."One of the major contributions to global warming is caused by automobiles, a man made i.e. anthropogenic industry.Other include garbage disposal, factories, burning of leaves , bonfires etc. All of these are anthropogenic causes.
2) One could argue that global warming would take place with or without humanity , but that is not and would not have been the case. Global warming is not JUST the warming of the Earth , it is the EXCESSIVE warming of the Earth's atmosphere.
3) The following site also concludes that mankind is the main contributing factor of global warming.
http://timeforchange.org...
My Rebuttals
1) Con's source itself says that human activities have contributed substantially to climate change I.e. global warming.
2) I didn't know that global warming consisted of parts. Global warming, simply put is the heating up of the earth, which is mainly caused by greenhouse gases which are emitted by both anthropogenic and natural sources. But the amount is substantially more by man made sources.
3) Another reason given by Con's site is the sun's reflectivity , which can also be altered by human activities.
4) This debate is not whether this is the Little Ice Age or any other age. Its about mankind's impact on global warming.
5) Even if the role of Ice Age is as important as it is alleged, it cannot overtake the impact of civilization and development.
cludwig

Con

I will restate, than in order to establish that the primary cause of global warming is human activity, it is necessary to quantify the amount and effect (not qualify). No scientist or scientific body to date, to my knowledge, has been able to do so. Specifically, anyone making the assertion that humans are the primary cause of global warming must scientifically establish/prove what percentage is human as compare to natural variability and natural causes. It is not good enough to use terms such as "significant" and "substantially" as they are extremely vague inconclusive terms. An even worse approach is to take the line of reasoning presented on the timeforchange.org site referenced by my opponent, which virtually ignores the question/possibility of natural factors. I will reference the following chart by Climatologist Cliff Harris and Meteorologist Randy Mann to illustrate my position:
http://www.longrangeweather.com...
Note that on this chart there have been two periods with higher and more prolonged global warming periods in 1100 BC and 1300 AD (up to two-fold greater). My opponent also dismissed the importance of the naturally occurring little ice-age, yet its effect was over three-fold greater than our so called current "human" caused warming period. Being that natural causes are scientifically established to have created global temperature swings 3 times larger, and hundreds of years longer in duration than our current warming period (as recent as 1600 - 1800 AD), it is complete pseudo-science to claim that natural cycles play an insignificant role in global temperature change. In fact, being that we are presently in a period where we would naturally expect to see a warming period in the natural global temperature cycle, one would expect that human activity would have created the largest warming event in the last 5000 years. The chart/link I presented establishes that this kind of warming simply hasn't happened. The evidence I presented could even be used as an argument that Mankind's impact on global warming is negligible as compared to natural variability. Lastly, I acknowledge that my sources attribute a portion of climate change to human activity, but again, "significant" and "substantially" is not a quantification as I asserted earlier. I would ask that my opponent reference scholarly material that definitively establishes that human activity outweighs all other possible natural elements and variables in global climate change.
Debate Round No. 3
Sidnix111

Pro

Firstly. I have not quantified anything in the heading of the debate. I've said 'main cause'. Not 'more than fifty percent' or somethinglike that. Main means a major portion. Since when did 'substantially' get used for a small portion? And it is also not my possible (to my knowledge) to quantify the impact of natural causes on climate change as it is unpredictable and can change any time.
Con has also left out my point that human activities can alter the natural conditions of the earth, therefore any change in temperature due to natural causes could have a human factor behind it. As explained in the following.
http://co2now.org...
Secondly, I never said natural causes play an insignificant role. I said they play an important role but not as important as human causes.
In con's reference chart, the temperature has been constantly oscillating between hot and cold, but if you check recent years there have been almost two constant hot periods and the cold period is almost invisible ( in the graph I mean) meaning it is very short. And then in the graph itself it clear that the hot periods have been on the rise since the Age of Induatrialization. And after 2015, the cold period is based on assumptions and predictions, and as I have already made clear that nature cannot always be predicted.
Thirdly Global Warming is a reality. Just because there have hotter periods before, doesn't mean it is not happening.
The following site also explains that the global warming hiatus in recent times is not true. And that climate only causes short term changes in the climate of the earth, but human activity causes long term changes.
http://www.bbc.com...
Fourthly scientists will not quanitfy and agree that mankind is responsible for global warming, as it is their community that are primary responsible (in humans). But I will not defame them as some ARE trying their best to prove it.
Fifthly , again I refer to the chart provided by Con, the hot periods have gradually developed over a period of time, but in recent years its almost at a right angle. Which means there have been sharp and quick increase in the heat all over the globe.
cludwig

Con

The word 'main' as used in the debate heading presents the position that humanity's contribution to global warming is greater in magnitude than any other factor. The definition of 'main' could be explained as: chief or principal in rank, importance, size, etc. Therefore, Pro must prove that the human portion is in fact the largest of factors. Of course, the human portion needn't be greater than 50% of the total effect if there are multiple elements/factors at play. I also agree that it is more than possible that human activities could affect, change or initiate natural processes, but again, that would have to be quantified (what portion of a natural system has been altered by human elements versus natural change). Natural and human effect can be intertwined and extremely complicated, if not impossible to differentiate and separate. This is referred to as the "attribution of recent climate change". I will reference the following scholarly article:
https://gfdl.noaa.gov...
"Detection and Attribution of Recent Climate Change: A Status Report". The authors make several important conclusions in this comprehensive study: "Greenhouse warming alone is insufficient to explain the observed pattern of climate change." and "The most probable cause of the observed warming is a combination of internally and externally forced natural variability and anthropogenic sources (see also Tett et al. 1999). But given the large model uncertainties and limited data, a reliable weighting of the different factors contributing to the observed climate change cannot currently be given. In short, we cannot attribute, at this time, with a high level of statistical significance, the observed changes in global and large-scale regional climate to anthropogenic forcing alone.". This research contradicts Pro's assertion that human causes are definitively more important than natural ones.
In addition, to say that our current warming trend was caused solely by the industrial age based on the chart I presented (in round 3) would be to dismiss the fact that the sharp rebound from the Little Ice Age and commencement of our current warming trend (1600-) was initiated and occurred well before human activity was a relevant factor.
I agree with much of the content contained within the two sites referenced by pro, but none of them contains information that establishes that human activity plays a greater role than natural variability. The CO2 now website asserts that "The human impact on climate during this era greatly exceeds that due to known changes in natural processes, such as solar changes and volcanic eruptions." and lists several of the unique contributions and circumstances associated with human activity and greenhouse gasses. It also states that "the radiative forcing from human activities is much more important for current and future climate change than the estimated radiative forcing from changes in natural processes." These are grand statements, but there is no attempt to quantify them unlike the formal research document I presented above (which contradicts these sites). There is also no mention on Pro's sites of the fact that our current warming period was initiated well before the industrial age and human influence by natural forces. Even the IPCC continues to protect its reputation by using vague terms such as "...likely" regarding the position of humanity's "...dominant role in global warming".
I acknowledge that we currently are experiencing global warming. For those who lived in 1100 BC and 1300 AD, they also experienced global warming on a larger scale than we do today, even though human activity had little correlation to that warming. Thus, to say that Global Warming is unique to the industrial age is false. It is also very likely that scientists will one day be able to prove/quantify what portion of Human Activity is attributable to global warming. Presently, it is not possible as my opponent acknowledges. This is why no scientist(s) or scientific body has declared a victory on this issue (A quantified attribution of recent climate change). In fact, a very large amount of money and large amount of research continues to be spent on this very issue because it has yet to be proved or resolved.
I also agree that the current warming period presented on the on the chart I referenced is abrupt and is likely a reflection of the influence of human activity. Being that this warming period has yet to exceed several recent warming periods in effect and duration, we need more time in order to be able to place our current warming period into the context of other prior larger warming periods. It is simply premature to state definitively that human activity is the main factor in global warming. My statement is reflected in the current feverish rate of research being performed into the Attribution of Recent Climate Change. If a definitive conclusion had been reached, this research would not be needed to such a degree.
Keep in mind, that I am not advocating that humanity should not take responsibility towards reducing our greenhouse gas emissions; quite the contrary.
Debate Round No. 4
Sidnix111

Pro

I never said that Mankind is the sole cause of global warming. I'm saying they are the main cause of global warming.
According to the chart provided by Con in the previous argument, we are supposed going through a clod period. Then how come that 14 of the 15 hottest years are in the 21st century? This is shown in Wiki page of Global Warming. Therefore I respectfully say that the site might be wrong. Its true , there have been cold periods every year. But I think those are called winters.
Another reason. Global Warming is primarily caused by emission of GHGs, or Greenhouse gases. The primary sources of GHGs are factories and automobiles . Which are human sources. The only major contributor from the natural side are trees which only emit CO2 during the night. Whereas human sources include, CO, CO2, nitrous oxide, methane and other synthetic chemicals emitted is vapour form by humans. And with the tree population declining, and not many volcanoes in the past 10 years, the GHG emission by nature are not that significant as mankind.
http://environment.nationalgeographic.com...
And contrary to common perception there has not been any cool period, the average surface temperature of the planet has been constantly increasing. The concentration of CO2 has been up about 20% from 650,000 years ago.
Con has failed to rebut the argument of radioactive forcing which was in one of my sources.
Just because its contribution cannot be quantified, doesn't mean it is not the major contributor.
http://www3.epa.gov...
In the above site, research has indicated that natural causes do not explain the recent climate changes . ( Ever since the Industrial Revolution).
The site also gives the natural causes of climate change.
1)Variations in the sun's energy reaching Earth
2)Changes in the reflectivity of Earth"s atmosphere and surface
3)Changes in the greenhouse effect, which affects the amount of heat retained by Earth"s atmosphere
1)Its true that there have been changes in the Sun's energy reaching the Earth but none big enough to cause such a change in surface temperature ALONE.
2) The constant GHG emissions have damaged our ozone layer and are causing UV rays to enter the atmosphere which is also increase the temperature of the planet. Again . A human source.
3) The changes in the GreenHouse effect, is that we humans have been constantly increasing the amount of GHGs in the atmosphere in our quest for development and comfort. A human source.
4) There have been no volcanic eruptions, atleast not big enough for the atmosphere to change and for the aerosol count to become so high.
Therefore one can conclude that a human source is now behind almost every natural cause that MAY have caused this spike in temperature. Therefore Humanity is the Main Cause of Global Warming.
cludwig

Con

Yes, I agree with Pro's sources in Round 5 that list all of the ways in which human activity plays a role in affecting global climate. Unfortunately, Pro failed to acknowledge the issue of "Attribution of Recent Climate Change" which I brought up in Round 4. Without doing so, it is impossible to conclude that "...Humanity is the Main Cause of Global Warming" as Pro has done. To further bolster my argument, I will reference the 376 page scholarly book (published in 2015) "Climate Change, Multidecadal and Beyond"
https://books.google.ca...
which flatly states outright in the introduction "Many questions concerning the nature and causes of climate variability on the multidecadal time scale are still unresolved.".
This book also references a Technical Summary of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report which acknowledges "Difficulties remain in attributing temperature changes at smaller than continental scales and over time scales less than 50 years." (Solomon et al., 2007).
While generalist websites for the public (such as the ones referenced by pro) may ignore the issue of attribution, clearly scholars and climate scientists cannot and do not. The book I referenced demonstrates that scientists are working very hard on the attribution issue, and may resolve it in the near future thanks to ever improving technology, statistics and modeling. However, being that the world's top scientists have not resolved the issue of climate change attribution, it is far too premature for "pro" declare a victory or a conclusion that humanity is the "main" cause of climate change (based on the information contained in generalist websites), especially in the context of a Multidecadal view. I was very much hoping that Pro would address the issue of 'Attribution of Recent Climate Change' which I introduced in Round 4.
In conclusion, I would like to thank my opponent for a robust and civil debate on this important issue.
Debate Round No. 5
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 1 year ago
dsjpk5
Sidnix111cludwigTied
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Total points awarded:01 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro ff a round, so conduct to Con.