The Instigator
llamallama
Pro (for)
Winning
19 Points
The Contender
ishamael_89
Con (against)
Losing
14 Points

The United States needs to set a concrete goal to cut CO2 emissions

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/22/2007 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,132 times Debate No: 837
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (5)
Votes (9)

 

llamallama

Pro

First of all, global warming is real and the evidence is everywhere. The summer arctic sea ice on the arctic ocean has been melted away to the lowest extent on record. The top eleven warmest years on record have all been in the last 13 years. The intergovernmental panel on climate change for the united nations has already acknowledged that global warming is a dire threat, but the United States will not.
If it is not immediately stopped, global warming will cause deadly droughts which will cause countries to fight for scarce resources. There is already a drought in Georgia and African countries such as Somalia have been driven into chaos by their lack of resources.
The list of problems that global warming will cause is long: wider spread of disease and mosquito population growth, stronger hurricanes, powerful countries starting war because of lack of resources, even an end to human civilization in the near future. I can go on for a long time about the numerous threats global warming poses.
The U.S is the biggest contributor to global warming and it is they who need to act most of all, but the current administration is not willing to set a concrete mark on how much it will reduce CO2 emissions. Without a concrete goal, the administration is free to do as it pleases and ignore the threat completely. The United States must act now and it must make big steps to stop this threat to humanity.
ishamael_89

Con

Thank you llamallama for developing such a controversial, and important debate for us to have. I have taken the con in this case for a couple reasons which I hope to explain in depth below. Before this, however, I have some questions in regards to what you support.

Firstly, how will the "concrete goal" be measured? In terms of total carbon dioxide, percentage of the worlds carbon dioxide? Is this to be domestic purely, or do you advocate joining international action like the Kyoto Protocol? Lastly, what exactly do you believe the concrete goal should be?

Until these questions have been clarified it will be difficult for me to provide direct argumentation, so for this post I shall simply make general statements in opposition to your argument.

Lets start off at the top, shall we?
"First of all, global warming is real and the evidence is everywhere. The summer arctic sea ice on the arctic ocean has been melted away to the lowest extent on record. The top eleven warmest years on record have all been in the last 13 years"

The world has been warming recently, you are right. But you have no evidence in your post that the US, or even humanity in general is the root cause of this. We'll discuss the evidence later i'm sure, but right now you have provided none that global warming is occuring due to human intervention. You also have no evidence that CO2 is the leading cause of this warming. Right now we agree that warming is occurring, the debate will center, at least partially, over WHY the warming is occurring.

You continue by describing the horrible effects of climate change, but this has long been observed. Newsweek from 1975: "There are ominous signs that the Earth's weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production – with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth. The drop in food output could begin quite soon, perhaps only 10 years from now.... The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it. In England, farmers have seen their growing season decline by about two weeks since 1950, with a resultant overall loss in grain production estimated at up to 100,000 tons annually."

Obviously we can agree about the impact of global warming, it has been observed since the 1970s.... wait. I forgot the next paragraph: "To scientists, these seemingly disparate incidents represent the advance signs of fundamental changes in the world's weather. The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth's climate seems to be cooling down"

Yes, in the 1970s global COOLING was all the rage because of the cataclysmic nature of what it could do to the planet. So at best warming has been occuring for the last 30 years, when it had been cooling for at LEAST the 50 years before that. But one more nice fact about the global cooling phenomona--what did scientists believe the leading culprit was? Carbon Dioxide gasses in the atmosphere. Sound familiar?

By the way--ACUF.org "The official thermometers at the U.S. National Climate Data Center show a slight global cooling trend over the last seven years, from 1998 to 2005." Maybe we need to start worrying about our food supplies again.

Listen, global warming has been occurring, but it occurs naturally at many different intervals. One of humanity's greatest flaws is our egocentricism. Believe it or not, global warming occurred before the massive human exploits of the 20th century, such as in the medieval and roman warming periods. (950-1300 and 200 BC-600 AD respectively) One constant "fact" thrown around is that temperatures are at there highest points in a 1000 years, but this isn't true, as it was actually HIGHER during the period of medieval warming. Part of the reason why today's temperatures are seem so extreme in light of the past 400 years is that up until the late 1880s we were in the middle of "The Little Ice Age!"

Now lets talk about humanity's role in greenhouse gasses. Current statistics show that humanity makes up approximately 3% carbon dioxide gasses. You claim that the US is the largest emitter of CO2, but this isn't true, that title belongs to China. (http://www.guardian.co.uk...) Even assuming that the US makes up 23% of the worlds total man-made emissions (which it did prior to the rise of China), the US only made up .69% of the worlds total emissions. Less than 1%. Even if humanity did have a role to play, I ask what significant impact this would have when merely focused to a US initiative. Furthermore, Carbon Dioxide is only part of the problem. A very small part. Carbon Dioxide makes up, total, 3% of greenhouse gasses. Which means that the US's CO2 output in terms of overall greenhouse gasses is a whopping .02%. I'm sorry, but nothing significant will occur from this.

Given that there is NO conclusive evidence that humanity has caused global warming, OR that we have the ability to stop it (and yes, you need both) there has yet to be a proven reason why the US must create a goal to do so—especially when you give us no idea of what this goal could be.

The fact of the matter is that there is an inherent balance between the economy and the environment, and while I am far from anti-green (I actually often support environmental policies), it makes no sense to risk massive destabilization of an already fragile economy to change overall temperatures by less than a fiftieth of one percent.
Debate Round No. 1
llamallama

Pro

First of all, let me thank you for accepting my challenge and say that I admire your debating skills and wide knowledge of the subject of this debate.

I believe that the United States should follow or do more than the Kyoto protocol, which almost every other country in the world has ratified. You need only to look at this graph to see that the United States is almost alone in its defiance of the Kyoto protocol. http://en.wikipedia.org... Yahoo! News says "The United States is the only major industrial nation to reject Kyoto." In other words, I believe that the United States should reduce its greenhouse emissions by 7% or more by 2012 as laid out by the Kyoto protocol. Since I mistakenly put CO2 in the debate title to summarize all greenhouse gases, I shall only debate that the U.S. needs to reduce its CO2 emissions by 7% or more by 2012.

As to what you have said about the cooling in the 1970s, there are always scattered theories that will say anything. There was nothing like the complete consensus we have today; only a handful of researchers were afraid of global cooling. These scientists probably noticed short term drops in temperature, temperature drops in their area, or La Nina and noticed that CO2 levels were going up and drew a relationship between the two. The American Museum of Natural History tells visitors that tree rings showed that temperatures were increasing ever since the start of the industrial revolution, when man first started pumping CO2 into the atmosphere, and while temperatures did not go up on average as much from 1950-1970 they still continued in a general upward trend. You used the American Conservative Union as your source for decreasing temperatures from 1998-2005, but this source has long been known to distort the facts on global warming and is in support of the Bush administrations' steadfast denial and cover-up of global warming. The supposed cooling between 1998 and 2005 stands in direct opposition to the fact that 2005 and 1998 were tied as the world's two hottest years and that most of the years in between and after them broke temperature records. (http://www.ucsusa.org...) (http://www.usatoday.com...)
(http://www.washingtonpost.com...)
(http://www.theoec.org...)
As to what you say about the medieval warming period, while temperature did increase during the medieval warming period the temperatures did not increase nearly as much as of late and they were only in certain areas. The top eleven warmest years on record have still all been in the last 13 years, not last the last 1000. (http://carto.eu.org...) (http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu...) The only evidence I can find is that of historical records and since the times of the medieval warm period were hotter than the times before, the inhabitants recorded it in their records. They had no way of judging the exact temperature like today, it was simply whether or not they felt it was hot and they could not tell what the temperature was elsewhere in the world.
The world is almost completely united on the fact that man has caused global warming. The United Nations has already acknowledged that fact and the vast majority of the world is doing all they can to stop it. Even if it makes no difference alone to stop global warming, if the United States cuts CO2 emissions, it shall not be known as the one stubborn country that blocked all of the other countries progress. The United States would make friendlier relations with other countries and take back its position as a world leader if it spearheads the charge against global warming. The United States desperately needs better relations with foreign countries at this point in time and they should at least look like they care about stopping a threat that almost all of the other countries consider calamitous. If things get worse, desperate countries could start wars all over because lack of resources and it will be blamed on the U.S. and the U.S. will have to go in and stop the wars. We do not need another war to burden our economy even further.
You said "Even assuming that the US makes up 23% of the worlds total man-made emissions (which it did prior to the rise of China), the US only made up .69% of the worlds total emissions." Natural processes do put CO2 into the atmosphere but they also take it out. The EPA states: "The primary natural processes that release CO2 into the atmosphere (sources) and that remove CO2 from the atmosphere (sinks) are: Animal and plant respiration, by which oxygen and nutrients are converted into CO2 and energy, and plant photosynthesis by which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and stored as carbon in plant biomass; Ocean-atmosphere exchange, in which the oceans absorb and release CO2 at the sea surface; and Volcanic eruptions, which release carbon from rocks deep in the Earth's crust (this source is very small)." We, however, do not take CO2 out of the atmosphere. We just keep pouring it in and upset the extremely delicate balance of our earth. Remember that if just one species dies due to global warming than its predators will have nothing to eat and die out and its prey will spread all over, eat all of their prey and die out. Because of this chain reaction species that are vital for food and the earth's well being will die out and mass extinction will likely occur.
The United States can also make a big difference by cutting its CO2 emissions. The museum states that if most of the world uses mostly fossil fuels the CO2 in the atmosphere will double by 2100. That seems like a big impact to me.
Cutting CO2 is also good since by doing so, the United States' reliance on Middle Eastern countries for oil will be much less, since one of the only ways to cut CO2 is by using alternative energy sources. Oil is one of the key things countries like Iran and Venezuela use to threaten our country with and it is a way for those countries to hold power over the U.S. The United States' foreign policy decisions should not be influence by Iran or Venezuela, they should be influenced by what is best for the country. Oil prices are also extremely high and the constant importing of oil is draining the Unites States' economy. With alternative energy the United States will be able to export more and import less. Electric bills will also be less. This will probably help the United States' economy, not hurt it.
CO2 and temperature go hand and hand. When CO2 goes up, world temperature goes up and when it goes down, the temperature goes with it. (http://earthweb.ess.washington.edu...) (http://environmentyukon.gov.yk.ca...) Now CO2 has risen up to record levels and temperature will follow.
It is too dangerous to risk doing nothing. The AMNH states that Greenland could melt and cause 7 meter sea level rise if the arctic temperature increases by as little as 3 degrees and that it has already increased by 2. Temperature changes could release methane, which is five time as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2, from the sea floor and accelerate the process. Many scientists also fear that the arctic ice cap could melt by 2012. The list of dangers is too long for me to fit in this post. What would happen if we do nothing and cause the downfall of human civilization? We shall be remembered as the generation that sat around and watched as we destroyed our home. This is not just a threat to a city or a threat to country or even a threat to a people, it is a threat to the entirety of human civilization and we must unite in our quest to stop our destruction or fall bickering over whether or not it is really worth the effort.
ishamael_89

Con

great response! There is, however, one thing which I believe will swing this debate in my favor, and that is the quality of support.

**To everyone who will be voting on this round, this paragraph will provide an overview as to why I believe I should win this round. With a topic as controversial as global warming there is bound to be conflicting evidence on both sides, and that can easily be seen in the last two posts. The question at this point is which side has the BEST support. I will maintain that the CON has the best support--although it is not a popular view. When I show below that the information he cites is faulty, you have to err on the side of the CON who will have the best statistical support. I will also continue to star the paragraphs which I believe most influential to my argument. Now let's get started

First you comment that we should join the Kyoto Protocol, and the main reason behind this is, because "almost every other country in the world has". My response is that there is no inherent reason in this statement as to why we should ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Just because everyone else has, why should we? Refer to the bridge jumping cliche.

My point about global cooling is simply that as recently as 20 years ago there was not a consensus as to what the result of CO2 in the atmosphere could be, but now that the earth has been warming they are all suddenly convinced that this is the cause. I intended to draw into question the true cause of global warming, and whether it was really manmade.

**You do get to address this point when you cite the American Museum of Natural History. So tree rings show us that the temperature has been rising ever since the industrial revolution. Most scientists have plugged this to CO2 in the atmosphere, but I believe that there is a mere coincidence. Ironically, the industrial revolution began at around 1850, which is the SAME TIME THAT THE LITTLE ICE AGE ENDED. You provided no response, despite my bringing this point up in the last round.

"Part of the reason why today's temperatures are seem so extreme in light of the past 400 years is that up until the late 1880s we were in the middle of "The Little Ice Age!" (Round 1)

I'll concede the point that temperatures increased over the last 20 years--it really won't matter because I'll still prove that historically the increase is insignificant. This is where you address the issue of the medieval warming--I will address this question at the bottom of my post as that is where it best fits with the rest of my argumentation

At this point you go on to talk about better relations with other countries, but first, it has little to no relevance with global warming; second you offer no reason other than your own opinion as to why better relations would occur; and third any relation increase will be offset by the horrible reputation of Guantanamo Bay and Iraq. Besides, America doesn't want to get dragged into any conflict right now, even those worth fighting for. (Sudan)

**Next you start talking about how humans don't take any CO2 out of the atmosphere which is why their input is so much worse. But this will be true post kyoto too. Unless we invent a CO2 vaccuum we won't be able to decrease the amount in the atmosphere, and as nature, as you put it, creates an equilibrium, it won't do it either. Basically, if your argument is true than warming will occur REGARDLESS of what humanity does, because we can't reverse past actions. In the end, this doesn't matter however because human influence DOESN"T AFFECT GLOBAL WARMING.

You create a rapid extinction scenario at the end of this block but this is disproven by the fact that species go extinct every day and we don't see this happen. Face it, mass extinction won't occur because we lose the Tse-Tse Fly. Next you go off onto a tangent (this time on oil) with no clear relation to the root cause of global warming, but you have no evidence that Iran and Venezuela are "influencing" our foreign policy through their oil reserves.

**Finally you keep trying to answer the economy point, now by discussing the benefits of alternative fuels. There is, however, no reason why we cannot both develop alternative fuels and not agree to the Kyoto Protocol. In a world where we both develop alternative fuels and DON'T sign the Kyoto Protocol we would gain all of the same advantages except those directly related to global warming which is WHERE THIS DEBATE SHOULD OCCUR. I believe this is the last of the tangents, now lets return what this debate is actually about.

You cite a couple sources about how temperature and CO2 have a distinct relationship, but there are a couple things I notice here. First, is that you have yet to learn the simple phrase "correlation is not causation". Just because there is a correlation, does not mean that CO2 causes a temperature increase. It could, infact, be the other way around. Second, you still have not provided any reason as to why global warming MUST BE MANMADE RATHER THAN NATURAL.

**Third, lets look at the second source. I would like to draw your attention to the timeline in which it states that it is measured in THOUSANDS OF YEARS! I have a couple observations. First, the temperature change has had a very stable pattern for the last 450 thousand years, increasing greatly approximately every 100 thousand years only to fall again shortly thereafter. Ironically we are right in line with this increase, meaning that we are simply observing the effects of mother natures great pattern. Second, you state in response to my temperature for medieval warming that the only records were "observation", and that those weren't accurate. Do you defend "observation records" from 450,000 years ago? I don't have to prove the point any longer, there are more methods than just "observations" to estimate temperature ranges.

**You maintain that the medieval temperature increase was only limited and did not reach the highest temperatures. First, it was not limited--here is the study I got my information from: http://www.ncasi.org.... They used sources from all over, China, Europe, North America, North Pacific etc. Second, lets talk about your information that the warmest years on record have been in the last 13. All of your sources are based off of a previous study done which showed the famous "hockey stick" shape, but this was due to several errors in the study—namely it was gathered using tree rings rather than more accurate data. In 2006 the National Academy of Science review panel determined that the data was gathered using faulty techniques and could not be used to accurately predict temperature records—especially past 400 years. As the study I cited earlier in this paragraph mentions, many of these flaws tend to create a system where previous centuries seem much more calm then they really were, trivializing previous hotbeds. After the adjustment data you get the information that the medieval warming period had a higher temperature than today's world. This is where you can see that my data clearly rises above and should be considered most accurate.

**One other point which I mentioned briefly was that CO2 is not even the primary greenhouse gas. In fact it contributes approximately 3% of greenhouse gases! The biggest contributor is actually water vapor, of which humans produce less than a tenth of a percent. We also contribute only 3% of the 3% of carbon dioxide. So the US really contributes less than 1% of 3% of greenhouse gases. The point is, at most, US Kyoto efforts could lower the temperature by 1/20th of a degree by 2050. All of this at severe risk to our economic well being to attempt and try something which will undoubtedly fail.

With that, I wish everyone a Happy New Year, and thank you once again llama for engaging me on such a great debate.

PS-snow proves global warming false! ;)
Debate Round No. 2
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by magpie 8 years ago
magpie
llama: good debate, but flawed position. You have not established what the goal should be, nor what the result of achieving the goal would be. Fact is - very little (if any) benefit. If GW theory is false - it probably is - then the only non-harmful result is: slightly less CO2 in the atmosphere. Either way, the cost of any major effort will be the loss of our economic health. Most believers - leave out the deniers - wouldn't stand for the sacrifices. Would you champion: Nuclear Power, high gas prices, a cold house, cold showers, etc. while watching countries like: India, China. Pakistan, Indonesia, etc. producing CO2 at an accelerating rate? Perhaps YOU would, but most of your fellow travelers would not.
Posted by MarxistKid 9 years ago
MarxistKid
Llamallama and Ishmael are both skilled and elegant debaters. This debate was a real joy to read.
Posted by llamallama 9 years ago
llamallama
Great debate Ishamael! You did well.
Posted by Solarman1969 9 years ago
Solarman1969
manmade global warming is a GIANT SCAM to raise TAX MONEY for a CABAL OF UN CROOKS!

Dont fall for it!
Posted by AdamCW12 9 years ago
AdamCW12
Snow does not prove global warming false.... Ilongated summers do... Which if you notice the weather its not the same as it has been in the past.
9 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
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magpie
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