The Literature Review on Global Warming

Over the past few decades, global climate change has raised concern and controversy over the phenomena of global warming. Recently the rise in human consumption of fossil fuels and the direct relationship between carbon-dioxide emissions and global temperature levels has fueled the ongoing debates on global warming and its impact on humanity in the future.

In a survey conducted by Daniel P. Shepardson and his colleagues, 51 bachelor students from three universities in mid-west United States were asked to demonstrate their knowledge and perspectives about global warming. Surprisingly, 45% of students believed that global warming exists but does not pose a serious threat to humanity (Shepardson, 2009). The survey presents a spectrum of opinions from students on global warming. The small sample size (n=51) and limited scope of the study (only students from mid-west USA) however makes it difficult to legitimately claim that it is representative of the entire country.

In the past decade, the scientific community has almost unilaterally voiced support for the existence of global warming, yet is more divided on the consequences it will pose to humans. In the Unites States especially, the sentiment that claims global warming is not as dangerous as alleged by environmental groups is spread through credible outlets like prestige journals or prominent news media. An article published by the Wall Street Journal titled ‘Global Warming Delusions’ argues the little significance of global warming by presenting extinction data from the past.

Despite global climate changes in the last 2.5 million years, only 20 large mammal species went extinct as a result of global warming (Botkin, 2007). Articles like these help explain why only one-fourth of college students in the United States think that global warming will cause human causalities in the future (Shepardson, 2009). Furthermore, global warming skeptics attract support from the corporate world in America. Replacing fossil fuel consumption with renewable energy may cause oil prices to spike (Cappiello, 2013).

This will lead to an increase in production costs and consumers will pay more at the pump. Since green substitutes for fossil fuels will increase the costs of production, it is in the interest of corporations to oppose global warming reforms.

Despite criticisms of global warming, scientists from around the world and the Environmental Protection Agency have stepped up their public presence to raise awareness for the problem of global warming (Springston, 2010). In an experiment conducted by Ellen Marie Douglas at the University of Massachusetts, evidence that global warming was man-made was found to be ‘overwhelming.’ Walter Meier from the University of Boulder in Colorado also created a study about melting ice caps as a result of global warming, revealing that ice was melting at a rate faster than expected (Springston, 2010).

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Published by the American Academy of Business Journal, an article written by Demirdjian exposes the fact that global warming has become a highly politicized topic in the United States. Although this has led to an increase in public awareness for climate change, it has also reduced the objectivity of the arguments. There is little dispute that climate change is real and may cause unexpected shortages of food, water, and reduce human health (Demiridijan, 2011). Hence the important question is not whether global warming exists, but rather what can be done to prevent it.

The fact of the matter is that climate change does not per se affect humans directly but instead changes the conditions of life on earth. Firstly, rising temperatures will increase the occurrence of wild fires and create drought. This will unconditionally lead to the transformation of tropical forests into savanna landscape and the growth of deserts, leading to endangerment of multiple species living in forest habitats (Demiridijan, 2011).

In addition to this, global warming may cause the intensity of natural phenomena like hurricanes to increase (Springston, 2010). Secondly, global warming will cause human deaths in the future as a result of unprecedented change in weather and climatic conditions. The rise of infectious disease, flooding, malnutrition caused by food shortages, and extreme weather conditions will all contribute to the death toll (Demiridijan, 2011). Although there is no direct evidence for specific catastrophes that may occur in the future, one prominent example of destruction caused by global warming was the European heat-wave of 2003, causing the death of 35,000 people (Demiridijan, 2011).

To conclude, people need to step up to the challenge of reversing the trends of global warming before it is too late. Independent of nationality, political interests, or other incentives, the prevention of global warming is an issue that unites all humanity.

 

By a Student from Erasmus University, Rotterdam