Is global warming happening?
Global warming is happening. Based on data collected and analysed over a period of about 132 years it has been established beyond doubt that global warming has increased since the last quarter of the 19th century(1). It has also been inferred that the rise in global temperatures over the past 100 years is, most probably, the highest upsurge in temperatures over any other century in the past millennium(2). Data suggests that each successive decade is getting warmer with a likelihood of reduction in the duration of cooler periods and increase in the number of unexpected â€˜high-intensity’ precipitations along with other climactic phenomena of serious concern(1).
In an attempt to impede the undesirable and destructive effects of global warming, the United Nations brought about the Kyoto protocol in 1997. Although its objective was, to reduce the atmospheric level of greenhouse gases to â€œa level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” as stated in the article 2, it also marked the beginning of politics on global warming. In spite of the fact that Bill Clinton supported the protocol, he could not gather enough support for the treaty and the next president, George Bush, was against signing it. 104 countries across the globe signed the treaty. The opinion across the world, about USA and Australia not signing the treaty was so negative that the countries that were indecisive, went ahead to ratify the pact(2).
Politics around the Global Warming
While the observations and their rational evaluation, predictions and possible course of action make it an issue of science, it has largely fallen in the domain of political machinery as it is policy makers who decide our action. As Anthony Leiserowitz once stated, part of the problem is that climate change has moved out of the realm of research and into the political arena(3). With large companies lobbying to influence government policies and decisions and pouring in millions of dollars to push the common man into a dilemma over what is true and what is not, the solution for slowing down global warming seems farther than ever. The major hindrance to implementing an environment friendly policy is, Economy, the very reason cited by United States of America and Australia when they rejected the idea of signing the Kyoto protocol(2). The sheer amount of economic detriment caused that would result from replacing current technology combined with our lack of preparedness in terms of alternate fuels is the biggest obstacle.
As a result of lack of solutions to the economic problems, evasion tactics ensued.
- Suppression of scientific data: Since 2004, several scientists have admitted to having faced pressure from the government to eliminate data suggesting global warming and several others acknowledged their role in burying reports that suggested anthropogenic roots of global warming(4).
- Scepticism: News reports suggest that scientists were engaged to express scepticism and challenge scientific proofs that suggest human actions as a cause for global warming. These reports further stated that a group of major oil trading companies supported such sceptics by pouring in millions of dollars to fund the their research(5).
Criticism of Green activism and Anti-capitalism allegations:
Recently Green activists have been labelled â€˜anti-capitalists’. Martin Durkin, a producer, director and entrepreneur calls environmentalists â€˜posh anti-capitalists who hate mass production and increasing affluence among people because of industrial growth’ while mentioning Brendan O’Neill’s observation that most of the green activists belonged to aristocratic and wealthy families (6). For the first time in its history an executive secretory of United Nations, Christiana Figueres, stated that the aim of environmentalists is to destroy capitalism(7). On the other hand, authors like Noami Klein admit that environment friendly policies agree with Karl Marx and Lenin insinuating socialistic origins of environmentalists(8).