The Instigator
Derek.Gunn
Pro (for)
Losing
70 Points
The Contender
HandsOff
Con (against)
Winning
76 Points

We should take action against Global Warming

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/15/2008 Category: Science
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 16,234 times Debate No: 4423
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (140)
Votes (39)

 

Derek.Gunn

Pro

There is clear evidence that the world is warming.
There is no reason to believe it won't continue warming.
This will be disastrous for many people and other species in the world.

Therefore it is hypocritical and unethical not to act against it.
HandsOff

Con

"There is clear evidence that the world is warming."

And cooling. It always has warmed and cooled, and probably always will. The earth's climate is in a constant state of change. That's nature.

"There is no reason to believe it won't continue warming."

We do have historical evidence the the globe warms and cools without any help from us. Is this solid evidence that the earth will begin cooling again? Absolutely not. Can one use this historical evidence to make a better argument than those who claim the earth will now break from its natural pattern simply because it is currently in a state of warming? Absolutely. Scientists cannot see the future, and any current trend is no evidence of its longevity. Had we been around during previous warming and cooling periods, there would be no way to foretell impending reversals in climate change. And still today, there is no way to tell. No scientist will refute that fact. If we stick with history (versus fortune telling) as an indicator of future climate activity, we can expect many more climate swings in each direction for millions of years to come.

"This will be disastrous for many people and other species in the world."

Regardless of what disasters lie ahead, there is no solid evidence that human beings cause a significant amount of global warming. Therefore, we are not able to know for sure if any change in our behavior will counter the phenomenon. Although the environmentalists got up from the debate table and walked away claiming they've "arrived at a consensus," the debate is not over. We should not act unless we know. It is not enough to suspect and defend an uncertain position simply because there is no evidence to the contrary.

"Therefore it is hypocritical and unethical not to act against it."

I'm for action in response to knowledge, but not in response to unsubstantiated claims. If George Bush had the same philosophy we would not have invaded Iraq.
Debate Round No. 1
Derek.Gunn

Pro

Globally, we have had about 100 years of warming.
The global temperature has increased over 0.6 degrees C in this time.
(for significance, if it had dropped 1 degree C, this would be an ice-age.)

There is a clear and obvious trend. http://en.wikipedia.org...

Why is the world warming?
The cause is almost certainly the greenhouse gasses, e.g. CO2, NO2 and CH4.
CO2 was shown to be a greenhouse gas by John Tyndall in 1859.
It's a very easy experiment. Shine heat into a volume of gas, see if it heats.

Up until 100 years ago, CO2 was 280ppm of air. We burnt forest, coal and oil in vast quantities.
Air now contains CO2 is now over 385ppm. http://en.wikipedia.org...
We should not be surprised.
We are essentially living in a bottle.

Things happen for a reason.
As Issac Newton demonstrated, an object either sits still, or continues moving in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force.
The Earth's atmosphere also obeys the laws of physics.
It changed in the past as grasses appeared and coal and oil were laid down, and it is responding to forces today.
Our forces. (e.g. humans produce 130 times more CO2 than volcanoes http://en.wikipedia.org...)

Warming is a bad thing.
Life adapts to change, but the hot deserts of the world are never as productive as their wetter counterparts.
Warmer oceans are far less productive.
The World is less productive.

Clearly, we don't want starvation that must result. Few of us are happy with being even slightly poorer.

It's sensible to act when one has knowledge of a threat.
We have this knowledge.
We know the trend.
We know that greenhouse gasses are largely responsible. http://en.wikipedia.org...
We know of few negating factors and many (many) positive reinforcing factors
e.g. the melting of the highly reflective Arctic and the thawing of tundra that will release yet more greenhouse gas.

This planet is our life-support-system.
There is nothing more important to life as a whole.

That's why we should take action against Global Warming.
HandsOff

Con

"Globally, we have had about 100 years of warming."

Are you kidding me? We've have global warming and cooling for thousands upon thousands of years. 30 thousand years ago the earth was covered in sheets of ice. http://www.globalwarmingarchive.com...

"for significance, if it had dropped 1 degree C, this would be an ice-age."

That's fine if researchers want to call a 1-degree change in temperature an ice age. If true, it only demonstrates that an "ice age" is easier to come by than expected. According to the graph in your own reference we almost reached an "ice age" in 1860 and again in 1910. So I guess it says quite a bit about significance of a 1-degree change-- no big deal. http://en.wikipedia.org...

"Up until 100 years ago, CO2 was 280ppm of air. We burnt forest, coal and oil in vast quantities. Air now contains CO2 is now over 385ppm."

A lot of things (natural and man-made) have happened over the last 100 years to increase CO2 output. Scientists disagree not only on whether this affects weather, but on how much of the additional output is caused by man. We put out forest fires that would otherwise burn for months. We farm lands that would otherwise be barren. And if we are responsible for a 38% increase in CO2 output in a 100-year period, a .6 degree increase in temperature only shows how subtle the greenhouse effect actually is-- AND THAT IS ONLY IF WE CAN PROVE CONCLUSIVELY THAT THE GREEN HOUSE EFFECT CAUSED THE INCREASE. That fact that so many respected scientists oppose the green-house argument is proof that it is but a theory, and not a known fact. But you won't hear about these scientists unless you do your own research( http://www.speroforum.com... ). Otherwise, enjoy your media-imposed ignorance of opposing viewpoints.

"As Issac Newton demonstrated, an object either sits still, or continues moving in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force.
The Earth's atmosphere also obeys the laws of physics."

That's why, as your chart shows ( http://en.wikipedia.org... ) the earth's climate has changed directions so many times in the past. Yes, change does require force. And natural forces have always been there to act upon earth's temperature. There is no reason to believe it won't happen again, naturally reversing the current trend. Do you know hat in the 1970s and 1980s scientist (and politicians) were trying to convince the public that we were well on our way to another ice age due to global cooling? They too said they saw no signs the trend would reverse itself. Skeptics in this case were also brushed off for not being part of the "consensus." For god sake, science IS skepticism.

"It's sensible to act when one has knowledge of a threat.
We have this knowledge.
We know the trend.
We know that greenhouse gasses are largely responsible. http://en.wikipedia.org......
We know of few negating factors and many (many) positive reinforcing factors
e.g. the melting of the highly reflective Arctic and the thawing of tundra that will release yet more greenhouse gas."

You use the word "know" quite a bit, yet nothing is really "known" at all. I thought we were in agreement on this and debating only on whether we should act upon unconfirmed suspicion (albeit backed by alluring arguments from just one side of the issue). About 72% of leading scientists are agnostic or atheist because their is no conclusive evidence of god's existence-- even though the ID crowd has come up with some pretty clever arguments. Since even the pro-global-warming scientist will tell you they cannot definitively prove their global warming theory, science-minded Americans should take a similar (agnostic) stance on global warming argument. By the way, how do you (and nobody else) "know" the global-warming crowd has it right?
Debate Round No. 2
Derek.Gunn

Pro

Looking at the first five paragraphs... you essentially agree and repeat what I've said.
You provide a link that doesn't work. (says "Service Unavailable)
Nothing to respond to.

#6
You claim that some scientists disagree on what affects the weather.
That's not really an argument.

You point out that some people are saving the world from CO2.
I'm sure some do, however, if I recall correctly:
- Americans on average produce 20 tonnes of CO2 per year
- Europeans produce ~10 tonnes
- Chinese 3 tonnes
- Africans produce less than 1 tonne per year on average.
We are producing far (far) more than we save.

Next you declare that a 0.6 degree increase in temperature is "a subtle effect".
This has been enough melt over half the Arctic's summer ice, and open up the Northwest Passage for the first time in history.
If you consider that "subtle effect", I would hate to see a "moderate effect".

#7
You quote me

#8
You agree that Earth's climate changes in response to forces.
Then you suggest that natural forces may act to reverse the trend, but you don't say what these could be.
You tell us that the some people in the past have claimed we were suffering from global cooling.
So what? I know a man who believes the world is flat.
Lastly you claim "science IS skepticism". No, it isn't.

#9
You quote me again

#10
You claim that "nothing is really known at all".
I really should ridicule you about this, however I think that is a detestable debating practice.
Instead I will try again to make it clear to you:

We know that some gasses heat when hit by infra-red radiation.
We know (with great precision) how much they respond.
We know these things just as surely as I know that if you drive off a cliff you will fall.
Do you deny any of these things?

We can accurately measure the proportion of greenhouse gasses there are.
We can accurately measure the amount of radiation reaching the Earth's surface to heat these gasses.
Thus we know the degree of temperature forcing.

This is the force that you have admitted will change the climate.
Because it's positive, we are experiencing Global Warming.

The World is not homogenous.
The land masses are uneven, the clouds, winds and ocean currents can make large local changes.
Ocean currents can carry heat below the surface or bring it up.
This changes the average global temperature (el Nino or la Nina).
These deviations from average are of course temporary.

On average, if more heat is held within our atmosphere, it must heat.
It's as simple as that.

This heating will mean less life and a worse world.
If we don't want that, we must take action.
HandsOff

Con

Ever notice nobody can win or lose a global warming debate? There is just too much conflicting information out there. Luckily this is not a debate about global warming, but whether we know for certain which side is correct so that we might take action.

Let's talk about what we do know.

1) There are convincing arguments from QUALIFIED scientists on both sides who have come to opposing conclusions.

2) Neither you nor I are qualified to confidently refute scientists on either side.

3) There IS an ongoing debate with regard to global warming theory.

4) That debate is not settled just because Al Gore said it is in his movie.

In summary: It is absurd (not to mention arrogant) to think the general public (or Al Gore) has the expertise or information available to accurately pick a side on this. There are just too many credible scientists who disagree with the "consensus." http://www.speroforum.com... Since we aren't anywhere close to knowing for certain which side is correct, there is no GOOD REASON to TAKE ACTION, especially if temperature changes haven't exceeded anything occurring naturally in the past. That is the focus of this debate. And to win this debate you will need to convince the readers the debate is over, the GW crowd has won, and that you are qualified to make that decsicion. Good luck with that one.
Debate Round No. 3
140 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by magpie 8 years ago
magpie
I will state, categorically: If-if-if GW theory is correct in all/most of its assertions (and it is certainly not), there is no contribution that the west can make without total societal collapse. The net result of any strong attempt to reduce CO2 emissions without a huge investment in solar, geo-thermal, wind and especially NUCLEAR, NUCLEAR, AND NUCLEAR, BY ALL MAJOR COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD will fail. It will leave us broke and broken. Let me repeat: FAIL! - FAIL! - FAIL! Please notice that I'm talking about reducing CO2, not reducing Climate Change, which will occur regardless of man's activities.
The purpose of GWT is to reduce the west to third world status and make A.G. richer.
Posted by HandsOff 8 years ago
HandsOff
Those esteemed scientists refuting the GW theory are immoral idiots?
Posted by vibrodigits 8 years ago
vibrodigits
The debate was "We should take action against Global Warming".

Whatever the causes, the effects are clear. Trends can be measured. Results can be estimated.

The only arguments against taking action could be:

a) The costs of doing nothing outwiegh the costs of the suggested actions.

b) In your country, you would prefer higher sea levels, temperatures and CO2 levels. You have no interest in biodiversity.

c) God has chosen to destroy the world (again) and we should glory in his will!

So why this endless confusion of: "Gee, the experts say one thing but some imoral idiots say another, I'm so confused!" arguments?

A bit more rationality everyone please!
Posted by Derek.Gunn 9 years ago
Derek.Gunn
We burn 56 million barrels of oil and 17 million tonnes of coal... every day.
With McCain and Obama both able to see that this contributes to global warming
- there's hope for the planet yet.

When I've got some time free, I'll be happy to talk about right-wing politics with you.
Posted by HandsOff 9 years ago
HandsOff
Global warming is of no more interest now that I'm certain the GW crowd is simply more willing to give credence to particular scientific arguments, while the anti-GW crowd demands proof before action. I can see both sides. Regarding L-R politics: You are a very good debater, so I was curious how you would defend your politics on a philisophical level, with no scientists to cite. Since we have no forum on this site, I assume the best way to move from topic to topic is in the comments section.
Posted by Derek.Gunn 9 years ago
Derek.Gunn
Still no argument vs us contributing to GW?
OK, I guess you concede that least some man-made global warming is a fact.
You've again just tried denying it without reference to anything, and this time changing "contribute" to "cause".

All you need to see is that the hotter the world becomes, the worse it is overall, and you will have come around to the only sensible position, which is that we should try to do something about it.

I guess I could chat with you about about Left vs Right-wing ideologies, but not in the
"We should take action against Global Warming" debating area.
I didn't give you "the slip", you presume we've started talking about L-R politics.
Posted by HandsOff 9 years ago
HandsOff
And... it looks like you are the one who gave ME the slip. There is just no reconciling the inconsistency liberals and republicans have when it comes to personal freedom.
Posted by HandsOff 9 years ago
HandsOff
"Most countries have chosen a compromise between left- and right-wing ideologies."

As with global warming, it seems economics and personal liberty are matters of popularity for you as well. But to correct your flawed insite on my thinking process, since the concept of significant global warming caused by humans is not proven fact but rather a popular theory (which is something ALL scientists will admit), I have never been pinned into a corner.
Posted by Derek.Gunn 9 years ago
Derek.Gunn
I can see you are at a dead end with respect to GW, because you cannot bring yourself to admit the obvious point that we must contribute to global warming. There's just no way out.
Actually, the petty fact that we even give off heat means we must contribute to global warming; just as undeniable.

"It's like trying to convince you there is no evidence of God."
No it isn't.
Evidence of God involves the supernatural for which evidence is impossible.
Global warming is very much of the natural world, there's plenty of evidence, and more every day.

The exercise I was going through was mainly to see what would happen if I pinned you into a corner.
What happens is you avoid the question and try to change the subject.
It has happened three time now.
It's a pity because it means that you are effectively refusing to learn.

I'm not particularly interested in the right vs ultra-right-wing politics that you and Ragnar_Rahl seem keen on.
Most countries have chosen a compromise between left- and right-wing ideologies.
The Europeans who've experienced both first hand probably know better about the realities of these policies than anyone else. A good idea to pay attention to them.
Posted by HandsOff 9 years ago
HandsOff
I'm at a dead end with you on the GB issue. It's like trying to convince you there is no evidence of God.

"My dear HandsOff... (BTW, why do you call yourself that?)"

Hands off my wallet and my personal life! The liberals want my money, which is only a representation of my time, which translates to my life and freedom. The republicans, on the other hand, want to tell me what to do with my personal life, even when the choices I might make would effect no one but me. This also translates into a loss of personal freedom. Why a person would see the transgressions of one political group and not the other is beyond me. Do you have any thoughts on that?
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