In this issue . . .
Q: Are we causing global warming?
A: Many people today are worried that global warming is threatening life on earth. They often blame pollution from modern industry, which is increasing the amount of certain atmospheric gases, such as carbon dioxide, that trap heat. Some individuals have gone so far as to say that we must take immediate action to halt global warming to prevent catastrophic consequences within the next century. What are we to make of such claims?
First, there is evidence that global warming is indeed happening. Virtually all the glaciers in the world have receded in the last century. Measurements indicate that the earth’s global average temperature has gone up 1.2°F (0.7°C) since 1880. This really isn’t very much of a change, and there is some reason to believe that even that number may be inflated. In any case, there is good reason to believe that the earth has warmed in the last century, if only slightly.
We must understand that the most important natural factor in determining the earth’s temperature is the sun. We take for granted that the sun is stable and warms the earth in a uniform way.
For the most part, it does; it is an unusually stable star. But the sun does have natural cycles and minor changes in intensity that affect climate on the earth. One such cycle is the relatively short-term sunspot cycle. However, much longer variations may also exist. There is evidence that such variations have a substantial effect on earth’s climate.
News to Note Quick Look
The big man of human evolution: He’s the new “big man” of human evolution: Kadanuumuu, a purported relative of famous ape-woman Lucy. Read more.
A catastrophe for old-earthers?: With a headline worded as if written by a young-earther, the press release for a new study of Texas’s Canyon Lake Gorge reveals that an increasing number of scientists are coming to grips with catastrophic geology. Read more.
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