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POINT-COUNTERPOINT: Is climate change real? If it is, what causes it?


“Yes” – By Kevin Puskar

    Climate change has been debated between two divided camps. One camp believes climate change is real, The opposition believes it is not.
    If there is any agreement at all between the two sides, it is that climate change is “cyclical,” but that’s where debate ends. In the last 650,000 years, there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat. The last ice age ended 7,000 years ago. This new cycle is considered to be the modern climate, and the beginning of human civilization. Very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives are causal factors for early changes.
    Factors contributing to climate change are human behavior, rising green house gases due to emissions from fossil fuels, population growth, deforestation, ruminant farming production for the consumption of meat and the collapse of bio-diverse systems. A 1992 publication, the group World Scientists Warning to Humanity wrote that we are on a collision course with "vast human misery" if we don't change. In a follow-up report 25 years later in 2017, World Scientists Warning to Humanity concludes that although we have reduced ozone depletion, all other categories necessary to sustaining the planet and life upon it to be declining.
    A 2010 Gallup poll revealed that about 12 percent of respondents – representing a total of 500 million adults – said severe environmental problems would require them to move within the next five years. Various agencies within U.S. Department of Defense are undertaking basic research activities with regard to environmental change. The DOD is developing policies to satisfy national security requirements related to mission readiness, platforms, equipment and installations, according to a report by GlobalChange.gov.
    Aided by modern technology, NASA has been monitoring the planet from far above for many years. The data collected reveals the heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases. The evidence leaves no question that greenhouse gases cause Earth to warm.
    In addition, ice cores show Earth’s climate responds to changes in greenhouse gas levels. Paleoclimate studies find the planet is warming at a rate roughly 10 times the average rate of previous ice-age recovery warming as evidenced in tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs and layers of sedimentary rocks.
    The rate of climate change is the gong we should bang loudly for a real national emergency.
    Kevin Puskar of Murphy is a native of Florida. He earned a degree in computer engineering and technology before spending most of his working life in the computer and technology industry, then 12 years as a licensed financial advisor. He is also the author of A Path Runs Through It.


“If it is, the causes are unknown” – By Hugh Williamson

    I suspect it is real to some slight extent. For millions of years, Earth has gone through many heating and cooling periods. At the time of the dinosaurs, the world was much warmer than it is today.
    Climate changes in the past have been attributed by scientists to many different interacting causes.  No one knows with certainty what the causes of these changes were and how they interacted.
    It is beyond dispute that ice ages have come and gone many times in the past million years or so.  None of the major ice ages could possibly been caused by human activity. They have been attributed to natural wobbles of our planet in its orbit around the sun, different outputs of sunshine and other such natural factors. The basic causes of heating and cooling periods simply aren't known with any degree of certainty.
    Coming forward to modern" times, we do know Greenland is named that for a reason. Vikings coming from Scandinavia about 1200 A.D. found much of the land to be reasonably warm and fertile.  They established colonies to grow grain and send it back to Europe.
    About 1300, what is called the"mini-ice-age" began closing in on them. The temperatures grew colder. They had to abandon their colonies to permanent ice and snow. This is a proven historical and archaeological fact.
    The cause of the mini-ice age, which lasted from about 1400-1800, is usually thought to be a decrease in solar energy output. This can in no way be attributed to human activity.
    Since 1800, the planet has been gradually warming, coming out of the mini-ice age, coming back to what probably is a more "normal" temperature. This may well cause some sea and ocean rise, which will cause some significant disruption of human life in coastal areas.
    We cannot know how much unless and until it occurs. Unless we are willing to build thousands of miles of sea walls around all our continents, there is little we can do about it.
    Hugh Williamson of Bellview is a native of Missouri. He holds masters and doctorate degrees from the University of Missouri. He spent most of his professional life as a teacher and administrator at the University of Idaho and University of Wisconsin-Stout.


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