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Toney Anderson
English 102
Professor Newport
4 / 23 / 17

Science (Hesitantly) Settled

Climate change is a real issue, whatever way you like to look at it. Personally, I

think its an issue humanity faces because of its effects on our environment and what it

can do to our planet in coming generations. With that being said, Im not a full expert on

the topic and I realize that their are real arguments opposing the climate change

argument. I believe, and research has led me to the claim that greenhouse gases are

the root cause of climate change, even though I cannot make that claim with complete

certainty. While many people dont fully understand what greenhouse gases are, or

dont believe it is a pressing issue in the United States, I say they are the biggest global

issue man-kind faces today; they are the pollution we are producing every day and are

the reason for climate change.

So What Are They?

First off, I believe it is important to cover the basics of greenhouse gases. What

are they? Why are they called

that? And what is the

greenhouse effect? To begin,

greenhouse gases are gases

produced both naturally and


Some energy is not released back into atmosphere as they are
trapped by greenhouse gases, thus creating a hotter climate.

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unnaturally that go up into the atmosphere and form a cloud-like structure. This cloud

made up of gases such as Carbon Dioxide, Water Vapor, Methane and many more trap

heat inside of earths atmosphere, just like an actual greenhouse. (What is the

Greenhouse Effect 2) Typically, the sun absorbs the earths heat throughout the day

and releases it at night, but these gases are actually trapping a lot of that heat inside

our atmosphere. (What is the Greenhouse Effect 2) So we are still absorbing the heat

from the sun during the day, but now struggling to release it back into space. (What is

the Greenhouse Effect 2)

The main issue concerning the social acceptance of the greenhouse effect is the

fact that it is not settled science. What I mean by that is all of these ideas presented are

still being heavily debated across the globe regarding their legitimacy. We dont know for

sure yet if global warming, climate change, the greenhouse effect or any other label you

want to put on it is actually caused by human interference with the environment. We

could even take it a step further to argue the change in weather is simply a natural shift

in the earths climate. For the sake of scientific correctness, we will address this issue

throughout the paper as Climate Change instead of Global Warming because of the

uncertainty around whether the earth is actually warming or not. An interview with Fox

reporter Chris Wallace brought out the statement on CBS news reading, Donald Trump

said again on Sunday that he is open-minded about climate change -- but also that

nobody really knows (Schultheis, 1) the truth about the issue. A fair and honest

statement from the President, but a statement that I will try to debunk throughout this

paper.
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The truth is, I believe Climate change to be a very real issue. It is an issue

nowadays that I think is difficult to deny, even though I have found many legitimate

counter arguments throughout my research that opened my eyes a little bit. Without any

actual research there is legitimate evidence to be found from living in Wisconsin

between the months of November and March. I have lived in Wisconsin my entire life

and it is rare to see days like there were that it wasnt necessary to put on a jacket.

Climate change is said to be true by too many intelligent people, too often, for it to be

chalked up as a hoax. In NASAs climate website, under the heading facts, there is a

domain called Scientific Consensus. This link gives a statement from 18 different

scientific associations regarding climate change that reads, "Observations throughout

the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research

demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary

driver." (NASA, Scientific Consensus, 2) Some of the associations include the American

Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, the

American Geophysical Union as well as many others. (NASA, Scientific Consensus,

3)The issue is that it is extremely hard to prove to somebody it is true, and even harder

to give a simple solution to the problem. Because of this reason, Ive had to take a few

steps back and realize that because nobody can actually prove this issue to be

completely valid, it honestly might not be. This paper is a summation of what Ive found.

Not Just CO2 / How Do They Work?


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Carbon Dioxide, otherwise known as CO2, is the greenhouse gas that causes

the most harm to our planet. It is not, however, the only greenhouse gas. About 40% of

the heat trapped by anthropogenic greenhouse gases is due to gases other than carbon

dioxide, primarily methane. (Shine, Sturges, 1) What makes a greenhouse gas a

greenhouse gas is its ability to, absorb infrared radiation emitted by Earths surface

and atmosphere. (Shine, Sturges, 4) To be really effective, the molecule must

absorb at wavelengths where the atmosphere is not already strongly absorbing. (Shine,

Sturges, 4)

Another example is a gas called Chlorofluorocarbons. These gases were

previously used to produce refrigerators. (Shine, Sturges, 11) A Montreal Protocol was

able to drastically reduce the usage of these gases because of their extremely long

lifetimes (up to 10,000 years) and damage they cause to the environment. (Shine,

Sturges, 11,12) Its exciting that we basically rid ourselves of this gas. It shows when the

evidence of a problem is clear and concise, we tend to make the correct changes and

solve the problem. Hope for the future regarding Climate Change and our current

greenhouse gases.

Ben Shapiro The Opposing Voice

I watched a video on youtube by a man named Ben Shapiro. Now, it is safe to

say that this man would disagree with a lot of my beliefs on this topic, but it is also safe

to say that this man is extremely intelligent and brings up a lot of valid counter-

arguments. For example, he mentioned the issue of sea levels rising. Now, for those
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who may not know, Sea level rise is caused primarily by two factors related to climate

change: the added water from melting land ice and the expansion of sea water as it

warms. (NASA, Vital Signs, 1) Over the past century, sea levels have risen roughly 8

inches. (NASA, Evidence, 1) The rate in which the sea levels have been rising over the

past twenty years is double the rate of the previous century. (NASA, Evidence, 1)

With that being said, Mr.

Shapiro brings up the point that even

if sea levels rise 5 to 10 feet over the

next century, people with beachfront

homes will simply sell their houses at

discount prices and move away from

the coast. (Shapiro, 05:30-06:21)

While that sounds great, many highly populated areas of land will be affected by future

rises in sea levels. Mr Shapiro makes a great point when he says that he trusts

humanities ability to adapt over an irrational solution of ceasing to use cars, coal and

electricity. (05:45-06:10) The point is, though that man needs to be proactive regarding

the flooding, instead of reacting to the flooding. Just because we can wait and see what

happens, should we?

What To Do About It?


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In an article titled Climate Change written by Jennifer Weeks from CQ

Researcher, she brings up many enticing discussion points. For the purpose of this

paragraph, the topic I want to focus on is geoengineering. It states that we could inject

particles into the atmosphere to help reflect sunlight back into space, as well as taking

large loads of Carbon Dioxide and shoving them under the surface of the earth. (Weeks,

31) For example, when Mt Pinatubo erupted in 1991 in the Philippines, so much sulfur

dioxide was emitted into the atmosphere that it lowered the global temperature average

by almost an entire degree Celsius. (Weeks, 34) While its great news for climate change

and bringing average temperatures back down, the downside is that eruption also cause

large-scale droughts and loss of rainfall. (Weeks, 39) Which brings us to the ultimate

question. Just because we can do something, should we? Does it necessarily mean its

progress? I say no! Some of the solutions our world is providing seems to be extremely

patchwork. Its scary because of the possible side-effects it might have on the

environment, which very easily could put the environment in a worse spot than it was

originally. (Climate Change)

Another valid argument that Mr Shapiro mentioned in his speech was that

nobody is seemingly able to offer an actual solution, unless that solution involves cutting

all cars, ceasing to use coal and cutting off electricity. (Shapiro, 05:40-06:20) Probably

shouldn't do that, eh? He says the solutions seem to be that or pushing renewable

energies that only trim around the edges of the real problem. (Shapiro, ) So, that got

me thinking What are some possibilities to solve this issue? While looking, I ran into

an article from NASA written by Pat Brennan titled Power Play: Envisioning a wind,

water and solar world. The focus of the article is how the world can shift to using all
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renewable energy sources by the year 2050. Brennan is not actually the man proposing

these ideas, but rather he is interviewing a Stanford Professor by the name of Mark

Jacobson. So how do his ideas work?

The plan uses wind, water and sunlight to power the world. The two main ideas

that really stuck out, at me, were Jacobsons innovative ways to provide heat and air

conditioning using little electricity. First, You can produce ice with low-cost electricity (at

night), and use that cold for air conditioning during the day. (Brennan, 2) This isnt just

some idea that he hopes might work someday either. Stanford actually uses that

specific AC system already. (Brennan, 10) The heating system is a little more complex,

although it is based around the same principle. He uses the summer heat to provide

heat throughout the winter. On the roof of a building lies a, collector that contains a

glycol solution. (Brennan, 11) The solution gets passed through to water; the heated

water is piped underground to heat rocks. (Brennan, 11) The insulated rocks stay hot

throughout the wintertime and when the actual heat is needed, the heat transfers back

into its original water state and provides the heat. (Brennan, 11) To sum it up in a

sentence, Mr. Jacobson wants to utilize earths natural temperature peaks and valleys to

heat and cool our homes. Its fascinating to me how some of the most brilliant minds

come up with solutions so simple.

Subsidies

In the article How Effective are US Renewable Energy Subsidies in Cutting

Greenhouse Gases? authors Brian Murray, Maureen Cropper, Francisco de la


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Chesnaye and John Reilly investigate how recent subsides actually effect the ridding of

Greenhouse Gases (GHGs). The article goes deep

into depth about the different subsidies and their

effect on the GHGs and monetary costs involved

with them. Overall the current tax plans introduced

by the United States Government are not doing

enough to cut out GHGs from our atmosphere. The

article states, Our key finding is that, despite tax

revenue losses of $10 billion per year in 2010,

these provisions have a very small impact on GHG

emissions and, in some cases, may actually

increase emissions. (Murray et al, 24) One blaring

issue is that the government has largely ruled

against punishing or taxing companies who use too many GHGs, and instead used the

tactic of tax-incentives for the quote-on-quote well-behaved companies. (Murray et al,

22) It is the moral conflict as to just because we can tax these companies to punish

them for what theyre doing, should we. Frankenstein can be found all throughout this

paper.

The Hockey Stick Curve

There is a lot of research out there to be read that claims climate change is 100%

true. The article will clearly tell you why it is the way it is, give you facts and data, and
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possibly even change your mind. The true test of a theory, though, is if it proves to be

true against its criticisms. Climate Change has many criticisms, and for good reason

too. The Hockey Stick Curve, showed nine centuries of near constant global

temperatures followed by a dramatic rise in the twentieth century correlating with the

rise in CO2 concentrations. (Peacock, et al, 30) Great news for Climate Change

believers. But it seemed to be too good to be true. Head of the National Academy of

Sciences Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, Edward Wegman, as well as

the National Research Council proved to the world that this graph was not fully

legitimate. (Peacock, et al, 32) the hockey stick shape is an artifact resulting from a

combination of defective statistical methods and inclusion of data on bristlecone pine-

tree rings, which have been demonstrated to be unreliable as temperature

proxies. (Peacock, et al, 32) So, whats the takeaway from these findings? We as

mass-media consumers cannot believe everything we hear or read. We have serious

power of voice in this country and we need to make sure its an educated voice. Even

though the research supporting Climate Change favors the fact that it is in fact real and

anthropogenic, people must continue to be skeptical because not all reports are true.

Personal Research

I had the privilege of surveying my English 102 class at the University of

Wisconsin-Whitewater. I received results from 14 of my fellow freshman colleagues and

one teacher. I asked them questions such as, on a scale from 1 to 10, how pressing of
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an issue is climate change? Did they believe climate change to be mainly scientific fact

or theory? How did they think they could help the issue? And finally I asked them to try

and define the greenhouse effect. The results I received honestly did not surprise me

much at all. The average of all combined answers, 1 through 10, was as close to a 7 as

you can come. 7 of the 15 people responded telling me they believed climate change to

be scientific fact, 2 people said it was theory, 3 of them came up with the answer of it

was both fact and theory, and the final 3 gave answers that were unreadable. Most of

the results displayed at least a very basic understanding of the greenhouse effect. One

person even defined it as, gases trapped in the ozone, much like gases trapped in a

greenhouse. While, from my point of view, these results are quite promising, what was

even cooler to me was the fact that 14 of the 15 people came up with at least one idea

on how to help the environment. That gives me hope because people know what to do,

the issue to face now is showing people the true importance of doing what they're

writing down on my piece of paper.

How does the Ozone Factor in?


The Ozone surprisingly does not play a factor nor contribute to the greenhouse

effect. (Piccirillo, 1) It does, though play a large part in our environment and I felt the

paper would be incomplete without mentioning its effect on our planet and any

correlation it may have to the greenhouse effect. The Ozone Layer, which is composed

of a much less stable form of Oxygen (O3) has been largely depleted by a greenhouse

gas called chlorofluorocarbons, otherwise known as CFCs. (Piccirillo, 2,4) Other than a

greenhouse gas being the reason for Ozone depletion, there is no other correlation
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between the two topics. (Piccirillo, 13) The Ozone layer is crucial to our health though,

as it protects us from ultraviolet radiation in the upper stratosphere, roughly 15 to 50

kilometers about ground level. (Piccirillo, 3) Ultraviolet radiation interacts with the

cells of the body by damaging them and/or causing cell mutation. (Piccirillo, 3) CFCs

were used as refrigerants and propellants beginning in the 1950s because of their

stability and low boiling points, but they accumulated in the atmosphere. The reaction of

these gases with the ozone provoked a decrease in ozone concentration. (Piccirillo, 5)

CFCs are no longer used as they have been outlawed after seeing they're strong effect

on our environment. (Piccirillo, 6) What I take out of this is that when the scientific

research is clear-cut, we are able to take definitive action to fix whatever issue is facing

us at that time.

Evidence

In the end, before any change can happen in our American governmental

system, let alone the world, scientists must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt

that climate change is real and that humans are the cause of it. I say that because a

main counterargument that Ive come across, is that this warming period is natural and it

will come and go just like the last ice age. In the end, the world goes through natural

temperature shifts just like this all the time, right?

I hesitantly say, wrong. Scientists can tell that humans have made their mark on

the environment in a negative way through Carbon Dioxide. The trick is that the

atmosphere produces a lot of Carbon Dioxide naturally, so some people get confused

and say that theres no way to tell the difference between natural and man-mad Carbon
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emissions. (Realities vs.

Misconceptions, 5) But, by

detecting certain physical

characteristics held only by

ancient Carbon, rather than new

man-made Carbon we can

differentiate between the two.

(Realities vs. Misconceptions, 5)

As you can see in the picture above, our current Carbon Dioxide levels are through the

roof. Not only are they through the roof, but they have obliterated the roof in an

extremely short time period. Our world actually has been going through these so-called

natural cycles for hundreds of thousands of years as you can see from the picture. But,

ever since 1950 give or take a hundred years, we have blown past our previous peak

Carbon Dioxide limit. And its not done climbing. You see, in January of 2005 our

Carbon levels were tested and we found that our earth contained 378.21 parts per

million (ppm), and in March of 2017 we tested to have 405.6 ppm. (NASA, Vital Signs,

1)

The two pictures below show thermal images from NASAs website between the

years of 1884 and 2015. The colors describe

the heat changes over the years. Dark blue

shows areas negative four degrees

Fahrenheit colder than average while dark

red shows areas four degrees Fahrenheit


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above average. (NASA, Vital Signs, 1)

Shocking right? Looks like we are going to

burn ourselves to death. Well that might be a

bit extreme, but what is true is that we are currently 0.99 degrees Celsius above our

global temperature average. (NASA, Vital Signs, 1) Okay, okay I know what you're

thinking. Thats not that much! Whats the fuss? Well the ten warmest years in NASAs

136 year record have all come after 1998. (NASA, Vital Signs, 1) With nine of them

being after 2000 and the warmest of all coming in 2016. (NASA, Vital Signs, 1)

I do want to say that some of these people saying that these rises in global

temperature average are simply natural occurrences, have not been able to explain the

natural occurrence. (Realities vs. Misconceptions) And since we all know that Carbon

Dioxide is a heat-trapping gas, it is major evidence pointing in the direction that todays

rise in temperature is man-made. (Realities vs. Misconceptions)

Conclusion

Ive loved writing this paper because of how controversial it is. The basis

surrounding all of my propositions and possible solutions, as well as my hesitancies, all

revolves around the fact of just because we can do these things should we? Just

because we can continue to use our natural resources and emit loads of Carbon

Dioxide into our atmosphere, should we? Is that really progress? Also, just because we

can try and take drastic measures to combat an issue we simply don't understand yet,
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should we? Is that truly ethical? I want to show a few more reasons why we should

maybe hold ourselves back until we fully know what going on.

The public is frustrated and confused at the moment. What they want is clarity. I

believe that is the governments job to give to the people to try and ease their worry.

There has been too much talk on this issue and not enough action taking place. If there

is a positive to come of this research, though, it is that scientists do know whats going

on in our climate and what is causing it. Thats greenhouse gases. Whether we want to

admit it or not, we know whats happening and why. Now, the issue is trying to come up

with a large-scale solution that everybody can use. I believe it is possible to come up

with one if we dig deeper into our research and commit more resources towards

educating our government leaders on the gravity of the situation at hand. If we can get

our government behind us, good things can start happening.


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Works Cited

Brennan, Pat. "Power Play: Envisioning a wind, water and solar world." Global Climate

Change Vital Signs of the Planet, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 11 May

2016, https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2442/power-play-envisioning-a-wind-water-

and-solar-world/. Accessed 10 May 2017.

Murray, Brian C., et al. How Effective are US Renewable Energy Subsidies in Cutting

Greenhouse Gases?." . , American Economic Association, 8 May 2017, JSTOR

pp. 569-574, libproxy.uww.edu:2075/stable/pdf/42921000.pdf. Accessed 10 May

2017.

Peacock, Alan. "The Stern Review: A Dual Critique." , ANU Press, 2014. JSTOR, pp.

721-782 libproxy.uww.edu:2075/stable/pdf/j.ctt6wp80q.32.pdf. Accessed 14 May

2017.

Piccirillo, Clara. "Ozone Layer Depletion vs Greenhouse Effect: What's the Difference?."

Decoded Science, 15 Jan. 2013, https://www.decodedscience.org/ozone-layer-

depletion-greenhouse-effect/24110/2. Accessed 10 May 2017.

Schultheis, Emily. "Contradicting settled science, Donald Trump says "nobody really

knows" on climate change." CBS News, CBS, 11 Dec. 2016, www.cbsnews.com/

news/donald-trump-climate-change-nobody-really-knows/. Accessed 10 May

2017.

Shine, Keith P., and William T. Sturges. "CO2 Is Not the Only Gas ." , Science. JSTOR,

pp. 1804-1805 libproxy.uww.edu:2075/stable/pdf/20035894.pdf. Accessed 15

May 2017.
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Weeks, Jennifer. "Will governments act to curb rising temperatures?." Climate Change,

CQ Press, 14 June 2013. CQ Researcher, pp. 23, 521-544 libproxy.uww.edu:

2648/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre2013061400. Accessed 10 May

2017.

Ben Shapiro: How to Debate Climate Change. Youtube, uploaded by Daily Liberty, 17

December 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZNu3GRI3H4

Global Climate Change Vital Signs of the Planet, NASA, edited by Holly Shaftel, NASA's

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 8 May 2017, https://climate.nasa.gov/. Accessed 10

May 2017.

"Realities vs. Misconceptions about Climate Change Science." Center for Climate and

Energy Solutions, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, https://

www.c2es.org/docUploads/misconceptions-realities-climate-science-06-2012.pdf.

Accessed 10 May 2017.

"What is the greenhouse effect?." Climate Kids Nasa's Eyes on the Earth, Earth

Science Communications Team, 30 Mar. 2017, https://climatekids.nasa.gov/

greenhouse-effect/. Accessed 10 May 2017.

Global Climate Change Vital Signs of the Planet, NASA, edited by Holly Shaftel, NASA's

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 8 May 2017, https://climate.nasa.gov/. Accessed 10

May 2017.

(Picture) (Thermal before and after) https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-

temperature/

(Picture) (Carbon Dioxide Rising Levels) https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/carbon-

dioxide/
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(Picture) (Partisan Divide is Wide) http://libproxy.uww.edu:2648/cqresearcher/

document.php?id=cqresrre2013061400

(Picture) (The Greenhouse Effect Original Picture) https://www.patana.ac.th/secondary/

science/anrophysics/ntopic8/commentary.htm#greenhouseandglobalwarming

(Picture) (Thanks for Nuthin') http://libproxy.uww.edu:2648/cqresearcher/document.php?

id=cqrglobal2010020000&type=hitlist&num=0