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No singular culprit in global warming trend

This year, for the first time in our history, we have to identify hurricanes using Greek letters.

The Western Hemisphere has felt the wrath of Katrina, Rita, Wilma and many other destructive weather systems because the tropics have spit storm after storm at the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

Some environmentalists blame global warming for the increase in tropical activity. They draw a relationship between the rise in average annual ocean temperatures and the surge in frequency and strength of storms.

These environmentalists accuse industrialized societies of releasing greenhouse gasses into the Earth’s atmosphere, which depletes the ozone and warms the planet.

People on the far left of the political spectrum have gone so far as to blame President Bush for the hurricanes, referring to his refusal in 2001 to sign the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty on climate change. They claim that since he didn’t sign the treaty, he is partially responsible for rising temperatures, and he is accountable for the recent Category 4 and 5 hurricanes.

Bush said he would sign the protocol under different circumstances, but that the treaty, as it existed, would cause our economy to suffer. Even if Bush had signed the treaty as is, the changes would not go into effect until 2008 at the earliest. So blaming the president of the United States for hurricanes that form off the coast of Africa is simply asinine.

A NASA-funded study performed by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University’s Earth Institute was released in 2003, documenting that sunspot activity has been increasing by .05 percent per decade since the 1970s.

According to this study, historical readings of the sun infer that solar radiation has been escalating since the late 19th century. The trend indicated by the study’s findings are “important because, if sustained over many decades, could cause significant climate change,” said Richard Willson, a researcher affiliated with Goddard.

Yes, global warming is influenced by “greenhouse gases” such as carbon dioxide, but many individuals disregard the fact that the Earth has survived nearly 4 billion years of ice ages, meteor crashes and, in the very beginning of our planet’s formation, a high concentration of – yep, you guessed it – carbon dioxide.

Recent research conducted at Duke University states that as much as 30 percent of global warming in the past two decades may be attributable to the sun’s productivity.

Remember: Humans did not have the technology to observe solar output until recently. The Duke study affirms that early attempts to study the sun were derailed by the failed Challenger mission. It is plausible that the centuries of solar radiation we accrued that haven’t been surveyed could elicit a response from Earth’s ozone layer.

As a matter of fact, scientists are still unsure about whether global warming even exists, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

There is an inclination toward increasing global temperatures, but if you’ll think back to your geology class, you’ll remember that our planet seesaws between hot and cold periods. These cold periods created the ice ages, and the hot periods melted the ice so our species could walk the Earth.

I do have a point with all this seemingly useless information: Don’t trust everything you hear. Conduct your own research – all the scientific articles I found are available on the Internet, a resource available to everyone on this campus.

Yes, try to use products that do not emit chlorinated fluorocarbons, or CFCs as they’re commonly known. CFCs trap heat in our atmosphere, proven by experiments conducted in controlled laboratories.

The hole in the ozone layer above the North Pole exists, and we cannot erase it. But before you place blame where it isn’t due, remember that there are forces beyond our control.

The sun is a great example of an influence we cannot manipulate. We will not be able to accurately indicate who or what is entirely responsible for the warmer climate our planet is enduring without another few decades of precise observation. In the meantime, remain Earth-smart and receptive to the thorough study that is science.

Taylor Williams is a junior majoring in English education.