Conflicting theories cause confusion

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As concern for environment rises, students must address, debate questions regarding causes of climate shifts


By Beverly Jenkins

<bjenkins@hilite.org>

Fact: Ice shelves in Greenland are melting quickly.Fact: Fourteen of the past 15 years have featured the world’s highest recorded temperature averages.

The question is whether these facts are humanity’s fault or if they’re natural processes, whether they’re dangerous to life on earth or not and whether or not we are going to do something about the situation.

Adding to the difficulty, according to Matthew Gray, a senior who took AP Environmental Science last year, is the fact that there are completely opposite hypotheses which claim to disprove the global warming theory.

With all of these cleverly worded, evidence-supported theories thrown every which way, Gray said, it’s hard to decide what to believe. After all, the term “global warming” alone has its misconceptions with people.

“Officially, ‘global warming’ is the warming of weather on a global scale,” Gray said. “But ‘climate change’ is actually a more accurate phrase. The world is heating up, but it’s also experiencing other events like droughts in some areas and flooding in others.”

Not only is the definition of global warming sometimes misunderstood, but the theories behind it can seem confusing as well.

“There are a lot of major theories about the subject,” senior Kyle Straub, who also took AP Environmental Science last year, said. “There’s the idea that people have nothing to do with (global warming), and that it’s simply a natural process the world is undergoing, and our releasing of (harmful) CO2 gases is just a coincidence.”

This idea is a reaction to the global warming theory, which states that the earth is heating up, by saying just the opposite. Those who believe this idea that humans don’t play a role believe that the globe has warmed and cooled on its own before and that it is just a natural process that has been seen before and will be seen again.

However, according to Fran Rushing, AP Environmental Science teacher, the most popular idea about global warming is human acceleration.

Human acceleration, she said, states that while global warming is a natural process, humans’ large production of CO2 is speeding up the rate at which it is happening, which some scientists believe can and will be hazardous if it is left unchecked.

Regardless of blame, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) still recommends reducing energy as a way to help the globe be a healthier place and Gray said its important to stay involved.

Gray said, “Just having an opinion at all, your own opinion, is better than standing by and either letting people put words in your mouth or having no opinion at all.”

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