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Communication and Controversy: Obscuring the Reality Behind Global Climate Change - Essay Example

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Communication and Controversy: Obscuring the Reality Behind Global Climate Change

An objective look and scientific data show that climate change is in fact happening, that, historically, a shifting climate rather than a stable climate is the norm on Earth, and there is a relationship between carbon in the atmosphere and global temperature – though there are also a great deal of complicating factors as well. On the one hand, it would appear that it is very difficult to establish a historical trend of world temperatures – we have only been measuring and recording temperatures for around the past one hundred and fifty years – before that we supposedly know very little. And on the surface this is true, we do not know exactly what temperature existed before the current period. But this belies the fact that there are excellent proxy measurements that have been shown to be relatively accurate when calibrated to current temperatures. We have ice-core samples that demonstrate how much snow has fallen in particular years, which can give a rough gauge of temperatures (National Research Council), as well as tree rings which show how well trees grew in a particular year (NRC). This data, when taken collectively and studied with statistical and scientific eye, can give a relatively accurate approximation of temperature over the last two thousand years. This can be combined with historical records (good and bad harvests, for instance, or records of when lakes and rivers freeze and when they do not), to be extra sure that the calibration is accurate, which has been done by several scientists/historians (Edwards 129). But this is something that lay people have a hard time understanding, which might cause some to doubt their findings. These findings show that temperature fluctuation is the rule, not the exception. In the past thousand years, the earth has moved from what was known as “the Medieval Optimum,” a relatively warm period when crops grew especially well in Europe, into a “Little Ice Age” that straddled the year 1700, and has since moved into another warming phase (Colman 6500). So, the fact is that the climate has always changed, and asking whether or not climate change is occurring is somewhat like asking whether or not evolution or extinction is happening – we have a historical record that indicates quite clearly that it is currently, and always have, and probably always will, occur. This evidence is increased and modified by the abilities of modern scientists to take accurate measurements of world temperature. This ability was gained by scientists around the year 1850, and from that point there is a fairly well catalogued history of what the climate has done. So while climate change is currently happening, and presumably always will occur, it remains to ask whether we are at a point of significant climate change. All appropriate data point to the idea that there is currently a warming of the earth that is unprecedented in at least the past 2000 years, if not before. The world’s average temperature has increased year over year and decade over decade, predictably, for the entire time that data has been ...Show more

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Your Name Prof’s Name Date Communication and Controversy: Obscuring the Reality Behind Global Climate Change There are always issues of difficulty in communication between scientists and their lay audience. The fact is, much of what scientists do can be of great and immediate use to lay people; it helps them construct views of the universe (knowing, for instance, that the Earth is round or orbits around the Sun rather than vice-versa), constructs their daily life through creation of new technology (such as materials engineering) or can even point to disastrous consequences of human activity (such as environmental science that detect pollution)…
Author : myrtlenitzsche
Communication and Controversy: Obscuring the Reality Behind Global Climate Change essay example
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