A logical approach to problem solving work
A Problem Solving Approach to Global Warming
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Because I can’t make a living writing for the Canada Free Press (go figure), I also teach logic and argumentation courses for several community colleges. This is a lot of fun, especially around election time when I make students look for logical fallacies in political ads. Talk about creating a new generation of cynics—students come into my class believing in the American system of government, and leave it ready to secede from the Union!
Apparently, they’re not along in this desire, but that’s a topic for another column.
Anyway, recently we’ve been talking about critical thinking and problem solving, and so I thought it would be fun to write a column that mirrors what I make my students do: I will pick a “problem” and see if it can be carried to a logical conclusion and solution.
The problem: GLOBAL WARMING, excuse me, CLIMATE CHANGE.
Here’s how a logical approach to problem solving works:
- First, I must present to the reader the “situation” (all problems start as situations).
- Second, I must convince the reader that this situation is a problem.
- Third, I must convince the reader of the causes of this problem.
- Fourth, I must present a solution that addresses the causes and solves the problem.
So let’s give it a try:
FIRST, THE SITUATION: THE CLIMATE IS CHANGING
No duh. The climate is always changing. Didn’t you see the film Ice Age? Some who claim that humans are causing climate change (for our purposes here we’ll call these people, “global warming alarmists”) argue that scientists have a pretty firm grasp on what causes climate change (and thus they know that humans are causing the problem now), but this is a load of bunk. Some aspects of climate change are fairly well understood, while others are not understood at all. Overall this is still an academic field largely in its infancy.
So let’s be more specific in our description of the situation: THE EARTH IS WARMING. This is also up for debate at the moment. The UK’s Met Office reported in October that there has been no overall warming for the past 16 years. What global warming alarmists once considered a “temporary pause” is looking more and more like something else altogether—like a normal trend.
So we can’t even agree on what the actual situation is.
SECOND, WHY THIS IS A PROBLEM: THIS CHANGE WILL CAUSE ALL KINDS OF HAVOC
Not very likely. Even if climate change / global warming is occurring, regardless of the causes, the consequences are by no means guaranteed to be negative. Consider possible advantages and disadvantages of a warmer atmosphere:
- Increased agricultural productivity (more rain, warmth and CO2)
- Longer growing seasons for all plant life
- Greening of some of the Earth’s vast frozen land masses
- Added habitat for wildlife
- More bountiful food for animal life
- Less food/energy requirements for animal life
- Less net global energy requirement for humans
- Less deforestation for heating fuel
- Less cold related severe weather and death
- Greater cushion against future ice ages
- More pleasant temperatures for economic and recreational activities
- Higher sea level leading to flooding of low-lying lands.
- Water shortages in already water-scarce areas.
- More extreme weather and an increased frequency of severe and catastrophic storms.
- Increased deaths from heat waves.
- Additional use of energy resources for cooling needs.
- Increased allergy and asthma rates due to earlier blooming of plants.
- Permanent loss of glaciers and ice sheets.
- Cultural or heritage sites destroyed faster due to increased extremes.
Far from causing all kinds of havoc, it appears that warming temperatures would have fairly equal positive and negative effects, and possibly even a net positive outcome, considering the increasing growing seasons and more land being available for agricultural.
So again, we can’t even make the case that global warming or climate change, or whatever you want to call it, would be an overall problem, even if it does exist.
THIRD: HUMANS ARE CAUSING THIS WARMING / CHANGE.
Again, this is up for debate. Although certainly those politicians who would just love to control more of our behavior believe this (or want us to believe that they believe this), there is plenty of evidence that humans are NOT causing this change, or at most are having a minimal effect on climate temperatures.
There are many possible explanations for the changes in global temperature, including the following:
- Natural fluctuations in temperature that have existed throughout earth’s history
- Solar activity
- The earth’s position in orbit around the sun
- Water vapor and other greenhouse gases that humans are not affecting
- Volcanic eruptions
- A combination of any or all of these
And these are just the tip of the iceberg (pun intended). Despite the lie that there is a “consensus” among climate researchers that holds humans as responsible for causing global warming, consider the following:
- A 2008 international survey of climate scientists conducted by German scientists Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch revealed deep disagreement with regards to the causes of global warming.
- A 2010 survey of media broadcast meteorologists conducted by the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication found that 63% of 571 who responded believe global warming is mostly caused by natural, not human, causes.
- A more recent 2012 survey published by the AMS found that only one in four respondents agreed with UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claims that humans are primarily responsible for recent warming.
- A March 2008 canvas of 51,000 Canadian scientists with the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysics of Alberta (APEGGA) found that ‚Ä¶ only 26% of them attributed global warming to “human activity like burning fossil fuels.”
So in following our logical problem-solving exercise here, this is what we know:
FIRST (THE SITUATION), there is large disagreement that global warming or climate change is even occurring, at least outside the norms that it has always occurred.
SECOND (WHY IT’S A PROBLEM), there is no guarantee that if it is occurring, it would be a net negative/problem for the world.
THIRD (WHAT IS CAUSING IT), there is no consensus about what is causing it (if it even still exists).
Which brings us to step FOUR: SOLUTIONS. Considering what we have discovered our logical study of steps 1—3, it doesn’t really sound like this is a problem in need of a solution, does it?