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SOCIAL SCIENCE PROBLEM-SOLVING METHOD

Use of the problem-solving method to analyze the problem of increasing greenhouse emissions. Possible solutions to the problem.

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In stating your problem, you say simply "global warming." You need to be more specific. I suggest instead "maintain current levels of CO2 generated by human activities." You can't really have as a goal "stop global warming" as some warming may be a natural phenomenon and completely out of our hands.

To analyze the problem, we need to understand that it is only in recent times that humans have realized that the climate is a dynamic system. Previously, it was believed that the earth's temperatures at each location varied only with the seasons. After the fact that ice ages have occurred was accepted, we are now facing a new development: not only does the climate change, but humans can change it. The first to propose that CO2 was related to global warming was G.S. Callendar in 1939. He argued that the level of both carbon dioxide and temperature had been rising, but his views were greeted with skepticism. For a good overview of these historical developments, see
http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm

Scientifically speaking, global warming is very difficult to assign to a specific cause. This is because the climate has changed significantly throughout geologic time, without any human interference. It is therefore virtually impossible to say that the current increase in global temperature is due solely to anthropogenic causes. We can only say that humans have increased the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere, and that as CO2 has increases, global temperatures have also increased progressively. However, this could be a coincidence. The climate is extremely complicated, and by the time we are certain of the damage (eg 50% of arable land will be lost) it will be too late to do anything. This is because it takes years, sometimes decades, for the climate to respond to any changes we might make.

In order to determine whether CO2 has increased global temperatures, climatologists must create accurate computer models which will account for the increase in global temperatures. Models are inherently flawed: they cannot by their very nature include every variable. We can only hope that they include the most important ones, and therefore give us results that are reasonably close to those that occur in nature.

The movie "An Inconvenient Truth" is the best way to get an understanding of the possible long term effects of global warming. Of course we really have no idea what the long term effects are; this is only one possible scenario. There are so many environmental theories involved in global warming, it is ...

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Use of the problem-solving method to analyze the problem of increasing greenhouse emissions. Possible solutions to the problem.

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