The Problem of Global Warming Essay

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The Problem of Global Warming

In June of 1988, James Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), informed a Senate committee that, "the greenhouse effect has been detected and is changing our climate now." With this statement, he launched the ongoing international debate on the magnitude of global warming and its "potential to adversely affect the Earth's environment."1 Unfortunately, since this announcement, the world has not yet become fully mobilized to act on this problem. The majority of solutions proposed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have not been implemented as countries like the US, though symbolically
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Effects of Scientific Uncertainty on Policy
While the scientific precepts of global warming are generally accepted, advocates of aggressive initiatives to combat global warming must still counter a few skeptics. A useful practice is to invoke the 'precautionary principle' which implies that specifically because we lack complete scientific information, policy makers should respond with conservative or, precautionary, policies to halt the suspected human contributions to climate change.4 The philosophy behind environmental policymaking is important to consider in light of scientific uncertainty. On the research front, it is unlikely that before we reach the 2012 deadline for emissions reductions established by the Kyoto Protocol, scientists will definitively prove that humans are the primary cause of climate change.

However, some of the basic scientific principles of global warming can be easily understood and used to extrapolate global climate change problems. The Earth is constantly bombarded by solar radiation, which includes visible and non-visible rays. About one-third of the radiation is reflected back into space

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