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Climate Change and Society Essay

Topic : In considering solutions to the problem of global warming, state whether you agree with the statement by Tickell ((1996), in Houghton, Chapter 8 p.253) “Mostly we know what to do but we lack the will to do it”. Give reasoned arguments in support of your opinion.

Global warming is the topic that increasingly occuipies the attention of world. Is it really happening? If so, how much of it is due to human activities? After realising the situation, has the public aware of it and contribute enough effort in combating the problem? This essay argues that in cosidering solutions to the problem of global warming, whether it contradicts with the statement “ Mostly we know what to do but we lack the will to do it.” I believe that this comment can accurately describe the situation and i would like to give reasons to support my stance in four regarding areas: knowledge , attitude, values and actions.

First, public have supreme knowledge in recognizing the threat of climate change since the late 1990s and has finally led to acceptance of the global warming hypothesis, however prompt actions were not taken within the public nor the society with the full awareness of the situation. As Mark Maslin( 2008 ) stated: It was not until the early 1980s, when the global annual mean temperature curve started to increase, that the global cooling scenario was questioned. By the late 1980s, the global annual mean temperature curve rose so steeply that all the dormant evidence from the late 1950s and 1960s was given prominence and the global warming theory was in full swing. However, the upturn in the global annual mean temperature data was not the sole reason for the appearance of the global warming issue. In the late 1970s and 1980s, there were significant advances in global climate modelling and a marked improvement in our understanding of past climates.

Development in general circulation models (GCMs) during this period included taking into account the role of particles and clouds in affecting the global climate. Despite the cooling effect thought to be associated with particle pollution, the new ocean- atmosphere coupled GCM tools emerged with revised and higher estimates of the warming that would be associated with a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. After that, GCMs continued to improve and the numbers of scientific teams working on such models increased over the 1980s and 1990s. In terms of the study of palaeoclimate, during the 1980s there was also an intense drive to understand how and why past climate changed. All in all, the public and society had already gained enough recognition to the problem long ago. Furthermore, intense media interest throughout the late 1980s and 1990s contribute to the reason why global warming hypothesis was widely accepted and spread in the society.

Second, people’s attitudes are also selfsh. Many recognise this lack of will to act as a spiritual problem that we are too obsessed with the material and fail to act according to generally accepted values if it cost to ourselves or if it is concerned with the future rather than the present. We are only too aware of the strong temptations we experience at both the personal and national levels to use world’s resources to satisfy our needs and greediness. The society holds different attitudes towards different issues. One of the main attitudes is equlity. In our world community, human beings are not all equal.

Reality is full of inequities of many kinds. In the context of global warming, because it is long term and global, two equity issues are particularly important. In one hand, it is our responsibility to protect the environment for our future generations. However, this attitude is not universally shared. Once the problem would not become so serious in one’s lifetime, the longer we delay in taking actions. In the other hand, international equilty where climate change creates an huge challenge to the international community. The world’s developed countries have grown the wealth over the years from the cheap energer resources such as coal, oil and fossil fuels without realising the harm they did on the environment and the less developed countries.

Third, environmental values in considering the solution regarding global warming. What do we value in the environment and how do we decide what to preserve or not?As John Hougton ( 2009 ) stated: Moving away from science, we have already referred to values related to the environment that come from our basic experiences as human beings. These are also called “shared values” because they are common to different members of a human community.

Forth, the effect of the action taken regarding the problem may not be the most effective. For example, developing alternative sources of energy. Many countries started to use nuclear power. 66% of electricity production in France and Belgium comes from nuclear power. They reduce the output of carbon dioxide effectively. However, there is also the problem for nuclear waste disposal. Other renewable energy eg. Solar, wind and H.E.P. have also been developed but the UK government blocks five wind farms since they will interfere with military rader. Large dams for H.E.P. may also cause environmental problems. For energey efficenciency, countries have try to improve fuel efficiency of cars, for example, sales of Japanese fuel-efficient cars in the U.S. markets have increased. And they have try to develop energy-saving transport, eg.

Magnetically levitated trains, hydrogen cars or fuel cell vehicles. However, the construction cost of maglev is huge and the competition among maglev, “bullet trains” and airplanes is high in Japan. On the other hand, some countries have improved fuel efficiency of buildings through better design. In Canada, though the cost of an energy-efficient “ R-2000” home is very high which is not very applicable for public. And the government has also controlled deforestation.Though countries give advices on forest project management, it is difficult to persuade the Brazilians to control the destruction of Amazon.

In conclusion, human mankind has over exploiting the Earth resources over the past centuries since the beginning of industrial revolution. Great benefits are attained which makes people neglecting harm they have done over the environment.

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