It’s easy to forget that many of what scientists and many laypersons now take as scientific givens – a heliocentric solar system, plate tectonics, evolution – initially faced fierce and strident opposition that persisted over decades if not centuries – and to this day remain outside the world view of large numbers of people. Such is the case when it comes to global warming and climate change, which has taken several decades – and sharp spikes in fossil fuels and commodities– to win the minds and hearts of what James Lovelock terms “scientific middle management” as well as a broader public.
That’s certainly not to say that there is unanimity in the scientific community or the broad population – as can be seen in some reader comments– when it comes to acknowledging that we are on the brink, or perhaps in the early stages of a global warming period and that man-made emissions of carbon dioxide is the primary accelerant. And it remains very much in doubt as to whether or not governments, industry, NGOs, local communities and individuals can respond as widely or as urgently as may be necessary to even at least ameliorate the adverse effects.
A Useful Graphic
It’s only natural, indeed healthy, that there is debate, some controversy, skepticism and critical analysis when it comes to do with the general acceptance of any new scientific theory. And it’s incumbent on each individual who cares to form an opinion to gather and sort out the facts as best they can.
So I have been keeping on eye out for a particular chart that makes, or at least strongly suggests, the connection between man-made CO2 emissions and global warming. Fortuitously I came across it again the other day – courtesy of the U.S. Dept. of Energy – in a piece of investment research to do with the coal industry, clean technology and related U.S. legislation put out by Natexis Bleichroeder in March, 2007.
Now I realize that any good scientist or analyst should err very much on the side of caution when saying anything about causality, and would delve into the sources and quality of the raw data used to construct this graph. Coming from the U.S. DOE, however, gives me sufficient initial assurance that it is probably the best available. More to the point, I would think that the period depicted – beginning with 1850, acknowledged as the beginning of the Industrial Age – and the corresponding humongous increase in CO2 emissions would lead even the most skeptical or hard-headed to posit, or at least acknowledge, the strong possibility of a link between man-made CO2 emissions and any indications of global warming that may exist.
I’ll be keeping an eye out for hard, graphical evidence of the latter for subsequent posting, but off the top of my head I should think that the rather drastic shrinking of the perennial polar ice caps offers stark evidence of global warming.