So Many People don’t believe in Global Warming!

Back in India, Global Warming (or shall we say human induced climate change? Nah – Global Warming is easier) is a big concern. Just about everyone accepts that it’s happening and that we need to do something about it – even to the extent of cutting down on lifestyle excesses. This understanding of how man is affecting the planet’s ecosystem is widespread. From students, to all teachers, housewives, laypersons, and even politicians (hard to believe but it’s true that they agree on something!).

So it was a shock to me when I came to the United States to learn that it was not a given here – after all, it’s a developed country. But large percentages of people (more than 50%) do not believe that man is causing an important change in the temperatures of the earth. My wife and I were ill prepared for this since it was akin to suddenly trying to talk to someone who didn’t believe the earth was round. Several arguments ranging from “Climate change isn’t happening”, “The earth is too big for man to affect it”, “Are you crazy? It’s getting colder!” and even “There is no scientific consensus on the matter.” And the worst response – “So what?”

Image Credit: sepponet

Americans and Global Warming

Americans and Global Warming

 

Well, just for the record, 84% of all scientists believe that significant human induced climate change is taking place. That’s a huge majority. The influence of humans on climate change has not been disputed by any national or international scientific organization (including American ones!) for the past 2 years. And yet more than half of all Americans don’t believe it’s happening. Why?

For one, there have been records of interested groups such as oil companies actively trying to debunk Global Warming since that would lead to a negative image about fossil fuels in the country and therefore against them. Also, when public opinion is divided, the government doesn’t feel enough pressure to seriously think of switching to non polluting energy sources – thus keeping their business models safe. Lobbying in America is bribery of the Government and the public on a colossal scale. For example, the Tobacco industry in the United States once spent billions of dollars on projects funding “research” to demonstrate that smoking didn’t cause lung cancer.

We in India have a huge interest in the American public waking up to the reality of Climate Change since the United States is the largest emitter of Carbon dioxide (though it seems that China is fast catching up.) It has the resources to really make a difference to the world – and themselves of course since Climate Change affects everyone. What is needed is the will.

So that is why the attitudes of people in a developed country like America lag behind those of countries like China and India. In Europe of course, there is a high awareness of Global warming. In the United States, people depend on cars much more than anywhere else in the world. Cars that run on fossil fuels. And this might be the driving force behind the American public’s apathy towards Climate Change.

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Comments

  1. Bhagwad that's an eye opener. I was of the opinion that Americans were the one that were much concerned about Global Warming.

    Anyways my contribution to the world is not that great but still I am trying to help reduce use of fossil fuel by using an electric bike. An year back I bought electric bike (Hero Optima plus) for my wife. This has helped me in cutting down on vehicle operating cost as well help me in going green. One charge and I can roam around 70 KMs without effecting environment. No emission and no noise.

    I use my motorbike to commute daily to my workplace. I keep the emission as low as possible. Trying to sell this off and purchase another electric bike (possibly Hero Velocity) as this will be lighter on my pocket as well as on the environment. Let's see hwo things unfolds…

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  2. I got to know many things from this blog that's surprising to me Bhagwad. We must bring awareness to people about the adverse effect of global warming. Whether we are American, Indian or Chinese, it is our first and foremost responsibility to save our planet. It is beacuse we disturb the nature, we often face natural calamities. It will effect not only our generation but our future generation too.

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  3. @Sunaina

    @Sajid
    I agree that Global Warming affects everyone. But it will be poor nations that face the worst with flooding and the other effects of climate change.

    Also, we must not only think of ourselves. Mass extinction, deforestation and other issues are causing tremendous harm to other creatures on earth to whom we have a responsibility.

    Sajid: What's the cost of your Hero Optima? And what's the speed? Can it carry two people? Also, are the batteries rechargeable?

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  4. Hi Bhagwad,

    Hero Optima cost me INR 31,000. It's maximum speed is 25 kmph and can carry two people. I recharge my vehicle every two days just like mobile charging. Since its speed is 25kmph max you do not require any license and registration in India. The motor in the rear wheel is of 250 watts. There are 4 batteries in all and the batteries are replacable after two years as per their condition. There are other varients of Hero that speed more than 40kmph, and cost 40,000INR (motor=750 watts). They do require a license and a registration. The varient was Hero Velocity, but i recently coe to know that the company has closed Velocity distribution.

    I will recommend Hero Optima if you are willing to purchase one for short drives. If you need something speedy then wait some more time, Hero is going to launch 1500 watt motor varient shortly.

    Bhagwad you will get more specification at: http://www.heroelectric.in/home.asp

    Sajid

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  5. *Well, just for the record, 84% of all scientists believe that significant human induced climate change is taking place.*

    It is quite amusing that although you have been eloquent about your assertion that humans affect the climate, you provide nothing more than a consensus of scientists on the matter.

    Well news flash! Consensus means nothing in the scientific community. A few centuries ago there was a huge consensus that the earth was flat. Turns out they were all wrong.

    *The influence of humans on climate change has not been disputed by any national or international scientific organization (including American ones!) for the past 2 years.*

    Proclaiming that a claim is true until it has been disputed is again not scientific. Moreover this statement only means that any refutations have not reached the public and not that it is entirely absent.

    For eg here is a site that could shed some light on the matter http://www.isthereglobalwarming.com/global_warmin

    In reality there is hardly any evidence in support of global warming. The increase in CO2 in the atmosphere does not correspond to a rise in temperature. Moreover there are other greenhouse gases that are much much more powerful than CO2. Eg Water vapour. So why is everyone hung up over CO2?

    Its rather arrogant to assume that activity of humans over a couple of centuries is enough to disrupt the climate of a planet that has been around for billions of years.

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  6. <blockquote cite="#commentbody-1903">
    Raven :
    "…Well news flash! Consensus means nothing in the scientific community."

    Not true – consensus means everything in the scientific community. That is how science works – and has been working ever since the world scientific community started working together.

    To say that just because we could be wrong we must not believe in anything is facetious. For example, we can't use rocket boosters in Formula One racing just because the rules may change in the future. What matters is what the rules are at this moment. And at this moment, there is a global scientific consensus.

    Also, most of us don't have the time or the expertise to verify scientific claims independently. This is to be expected given the complex states of the various disciplines.

    Even though I graduated in Science, I can't prove Einstein's General Theory of relativity, yet I believe it because I know there is a complete scientific consensus on the matter. I use my brain to decide that if there was a doubt about Einstein's theory, intelligent scientists would object – since they do not, I believe it. There's nothing more for me (and most others) to go by.
    <blockquote cite="#commentbody-1903">
    "…Moreover this statement only means that any refutations have not reached the public and not that it is entirely absent."

    If only this were true! Unfortunately, there are too many simplistic "refutations" that have reached the public's ear. Your "refutation" below is one of them.

    <blockquote cite="#commentbody-1903">
    "…there are other greenhouse gases that are much much more powerful than CO2…why is everyone hung up over CO2?"

    Good example of using simple logic to explain complex phenomena – there are so many reasons to look at CO2. Among other things, we can directly influence CO2 levels – methane is more difficult. Also, the half life of Methane is 7 years. That of CO2 is over a hundred – well over.

    Methane is of course a serious problem too – but better to start with those we can control instead of mooning over those over which we have less.

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  7. *Not true

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  8. <blockquote cite="#commentbody-1916">
    Raven :
    Incorrect. The scientific method has nothing to do with consensus.

    I'm not talking about the scientific method. The scientific method also includes experimentation which is not feasible when discussing climate change. That doesn't preclude us from studying it just because we can't follow the scientific method.

    <blockquote cite="#commentbody-1916">
    Without evidence, except for fudged data, in support for global warming caused due to human activity.

    Fudged is a weasel word – calling it fudged data is itself fudging the facts.
    <blockquote cite="#commentbody-1916">
    The truth is, there is nothing stopping you from asking for the evidence for global warming instead of following the herd.

    It's also true that false conclusions can be couched in scientific language – and most people reading it will believe it.

    For example, I can "prove" that global cooling is occurring because sunlight gets reflected by the increasing concentrations of dust in the atmosphere. Most people will believe me if I say this – but it takes an in depth knowledge of science to pick out the flaws. Be suspicious of anyone who tries to "prove" something to you. Listen to them, but also check other sources for the reverse argument.

    The safest way is to listen to the mummer of the scientific community. And if one side is getting louder and louder, there are very good chances that that side is correct. By all means, use your own senses to figure out if you have the time. Here is the link for the evidence on Climate Change: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming .

    But the very fact that Wikipedia which is itself a community driven site presents a compelling view in favor of anthropogenic climate change displays the power of community drive consensus. If you feel that it is wrong, you are most welcome to go and make the appropriate changes to the article…with proper references of course.

    <blockquote cite="#commentbody-1916">
    almost the entire scientific community were at a consensus that the earth is flat

    I'm curious as to why you call those people a "scientific community". There were only philosophers making a pretense of being scientific. I'm not sure if you're trying to compare them to the physicists who work on Climate Change…

    You seem to be claiming that it makes more sense to disbelieve something when everyone says it's true ipso facto…

    <blockquote cite="#commentbody-1916">
    Moreover there is no correlation between levels of CO2 and global climate

    A completely damning statement. There are such correlations – in fact, there are pretty correlation diagrams all over the Wikipedia link I pasted – it might be possible that someone has been feeding you outdated facts.

    <blockquote cite="#commentbody-1916">
    why is it that Mars that is devoid of such activity experiencing drastic climate change as well.

    Why would you ever assume that two completely different planets are even remotely similar in their mechanics? Just because someone has told this to you, or this thought has occurred to you, doesn't mean you should accept it blindly.

    Basically, all things being equal, I would go with the 84% of scientists who affirm that anthropogenic Global warming is happening, rather than with the 16% of those who do not.

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