Tuesday, May 5

Response to Global Warming

Before class last week, I had was not sure what my opinion was climate change. My uneducated opinion was that I didn’t think that humans were the sole contributor of climate change. I thought that a few politicians had nothing better to do and made a big deal about something that was not known for certain. That being said, I still thought that we had the obligation to change our ways to ensure that this planet is here for other generations. I thought that the cost of not taking action outweighed the cost of taking action regardless if we were actually causing global warming.

After class I have been convinced that we are actually causing the global warming. Before class I was not aware of the science behind proving that we have caused the climate change. However this really hasn’t changed my opinion of what we should do. I think that we defiantly need to change how we use the world’s resources.
How do we solve this problem? This is what I see as the biggest problem facing us. I think that raising awareness about global warming is the easy part. How are we going to regulate and enforce policies to reduce green house emission and reduce global warming? The Kyoto portal has addressed these issues, but they don’t seem to be doing enough fast enough. It seems that people are greedy and don’t want to effect economic growth by enforcing green policies. What do you guys think? What can be done and is it too late?


  1. Well, this is the money question. One very influential idea is of Socolow's "Stabilization Wedges": using a combination of approaches to lower the production of CO2. Here's one version of a presentation he has given many times.

    He points out (in a way, optimistically) that in the past, "What has seemed too hard becomes what simply must be done."

    Here's his 2004 paper from Science [via the UI article linker]

  2. I was on the same page as Alex before last week's presentation. Although I still believe that climate change is cyclical, I also think that we are contributing to the rapid increase of global temperature. For a while now, I have been thinking that we need to change the way we interact with the environment. The main problem I see is that it will be difficult to convince other to do their part to help climate change. Most people don't understand the science that goes into proving that climate change IS happening. So, how do we convince people to do their part to slow it down? Well, many people have decided to "go green" not to save the world, but instead to save money. Even companies are advertising products that are good for the environment, but they are emphasizing that it will also save you a bunch of money! Is this the right approach to get more people on board to help stop climate change? This goes along with Alex's point about marketing affecting science, as well. While saving money is a good thing (especially for us poor college students), it seems like they are not really addressing the issue of how we are causing cliamte change and what we can do to fix it. Shouldn't we be focusing on educating people about the central issue rather than feeding into the economic obssession we see in today?

  3. One of the biggest problems I see with being able to affect positive change with respect towards human impact on the environment has to be with the way people are educated about their impact. As both Brittany and Alex pointed out, there seem to be a great many people who are completely unaware of the obviousness of our impact on climate change, and how the level of change is going to drastically affect our lives. However, merely educating people may not be the only answer. We pointed out last week in the midst of our discussion that even when people understand they are affecting the environment, and how it will negatively affect their lives, the whole scope of the situation seems far out of people's grasp. How can a single person change their own lifestyle enough to even put a dent in the negative effects of climate change? In short they cannot, and this is why more actions and greater policy change is essential to reversing the problem. The IPCC recognized that it is essential that we start working towards reducing our CO2 emissions by 60-80% in order to ensure a more positive future. Yet, the only article of policy we've drafted towards this effect (The Kyoto Protocol) only calls for around 5%. In order to really start to make change that is in accordance with UN recommendations more people need to become educated about the problem, so they can pester those who can really make changes (i.e. Corporations, Nations, and other international bodies).


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