The Great Climate Debate Circa 2006

by Paola Salomon

There is still much controversy about whether human activity is causing global warming, and whether what appears to be a climate change is simply normal climate variability. Assenza and Reddy (2006) mainly debate the causes and consequences of climate change and discuss two different points of views: that of sceptics and supporters. While the sceptics do not want to take action, the supporters claim that we cannot postpone dealing with this issue anymore. Supporters are afraid that the environmental and socio-economic costs of climate change are significant, while the sceptics are fearful about the economic consequences of attempting to reverse climate change.

The authors include another group, the realists, who acknowledge the problem of climate change while remaining profoundly skeptical of the impact and proposed solutions. Their point of view is based on a sustainable development perspective, consisting of prioritizing poverty reduction and equity, yet at the same time minimizing environmental impact. Sceptics claim that the cost of techniques to reduce the damage caused by global warming would be very expensive; therefore they do not support any measures to address the issue. Although The European Science & Environment Forum states “solar output and sunspot activity could well have played a major role in climate change,” sceptics point out that there is a lack of firm geological evidence to support global warming. They demand more evidence to prove the notion that human activity is affecting the climate. Even if they had more knowledge on the topic, they might not act on it because, indeed, it is an expensive problem to tackle. On the other hand, supporters are more open-minded and believe there are three ways to solve the problem: regulate limits on greenhouse gas emissions, rely on economic instruments such as carbon taxes, and change the economic structure, the media, and education (Jacoby et al., 1998). Both sides of the debate are correct to some extent. We need to solve our 21st century problems, and we must be open-minded to different ideas in order to find the answer.

Asian Development Bank, 2006. Energy Efficiency and Climate Change Consideration for On-road Transport in Asia. Asian Development Bank, Mandaluyong City, Philippines (2006)

Assenza and Gaudenz, 2006. Mobilizing Private Finance for Sustainable Development: Wishful Thinking or Realistic Policy? Periplum, Olomouc (2006)

Baca, 1995. People for the West! Challenges and opportunities. John D. Echeverria, Raymond. Booth-Eby (Eds.), Let the People Judge: Wise Use and the Property Rights Movement, Island Press, Washington, DC (1995), pp. 53–57

Beckerman, 1996. Through Green-colored Glasses: Environmentalism Reconsidered. CATO Institute, Washington, DC (1996)

Bruner and Oelschlaeger, 1994. Rhetoric, environmentalism, and environmental ethics. Environmental Ethics, 16 (4) (1994), pp. 377–396

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