Arguing About Climate Change
Ten questions to ask
04 August 2018
Fires are sweeping across the world, from California to Norway, and from Saddleworth Moor to Athens. Record temperatures are being set with increasing frequency - today Spain might experience its hottest day ever.
When extreme weather hits the news, talk of global warming and climate change always follows, and then prominent voices are heard angrily claiming that climate change is just liberal propaganda.
It is frustrating that when climate change is discussed, a whole variety of issues are conflated. And while the evidence for some factors is so overwhelming that it should be beyond doubt, there are some elements that are more open to debate.
Let's start with a fact, which is not disputed by anyone other than the utterly deluded or ill-informed. The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by more than 25% in the last 70 years, and is currently at a higher level than at any time in the last million years.
I'm not going to offer any opinions or answers, but here are ten questions to ask when discussing climate change. You should also ask what credible statistical and scientific evidence is being used to support the answer.
HERE ARE THE TEN QUESTIONS
1. Has there been significant global warming in the last 50 years compared to the norm of the previous centuries?
2. Has there been climate change due to global warming over the last 50 years?
3. Is global warming largely attributable to increased levels of carbon dioxide?
4. How much of the increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) has been contributed by human activity?
5. Which gas currently contributes most to global warming, CO2 or methane?
6. If CO2 and methane levels continue to rise, what will be the impact on the world economy?
7. Can we halt the rise of greenhouse gases if we are willing to change our lifestyles?
8. What changes in our lifestyles would make the biggest impact in halting global warming?
9. If we manage to halt the rise of greenhouse gases, what will be the effects on the world economy and our individual lifestyles (these two are likely to be linked)?
10. Are the actions needed to control global warming worth taking - compared to the alternative which is finding a way to cope with the warming that happens?
There are some people who stop at Question 1 (dismissing it with a 'No'). The scientific community has a strong consensus on most of questions 1 to 8. But it's questions 9 and 10 that are the toughest to answer.