Anonymous asked this question on 8/7/2000:
What do you think a negative trend that must be stopped?
JesseGordon gave this response on 8/8/2000:
1) Increasing atmospheric CO2 which leads to greenhouse warming. CO2 has been increasing for 50 years -- no dispute on that. Bad trend.
2) Species loss. The "natural" rate of loss is about one species per year -- we kill off many hundreds times that. Very bad trend, since it's irreversible. Deforestation is related to species loss so I won't list that separately, but it's also a bad trend.
3) Population increase. The trend here is not so gloomy as it was 20 or 30 years ago. In developed countries, population growth slows and approaches zero. But in undeveloped countries, better health and longer lifespans are not compensated by fewer children, so population skyrockets. It's a bad trend in undeveloped countries until they reach "demographic transition" and have fewer children in light of better health and longer life.
4) Poverty. The trend here isn't too bad right now either, but we're not doing much about it so it may get worse. Again this is mostly a problem in developing countries, but that's 80% of the world's population so it's pretty serious. Poverty drives people to environmental destruction -- Amazon deforestation is a prime example. The developed world doesn't focus much on poverty as an issue; we should.
earthaudio1@..., a user from encyclopedia.com, asked this question on 9/27/2000:
GLOBAL WARMING. Is the earth's atmosphere becoming warmer because of pollution? Should stronger steps be taken in the United States and elsewhere to eliminate so-called greenhouse gases? Will such steps hurt the economy? Can we not afford not to control pollution?
JesseGordon gave this response on 9/27/2000:
Here's some background:
Greenhouse gases: Atmospheric gases which keep heat in, like greenhouse glass does. The most common greenhouse gas (GHG) is carbon dioxide (CO2), which comes from burning gasoline, wood, oil, etc. The evidence of rising CO2 levels is undisputed; the political dispute centers on how much of the rise is attributable to human activities versus how much is natural climatic fluctuation.
Global Warming: Increase in worldwide temperature due to excess emissions of greenhouse gases. A few degrees rise in temperature, in theory, would cause rising sea levels, more extreme weather, and climate change around the world. The evidence of rising temperatures is undisputed; the political dispute centers on and whether it will change the climate and whether we can or should do something about it.
Climate Change Treaty: The basic international treaty on reducing greenhouse gas emissions was signed by the US and 182 other countries in 1992. It set up a ‘framework’ for later ‘protocols.’ Also known as the Rio Treaty or Greenhouse Gas Treaty.
Kyoto Protocol: The follow-up to the Climate Change Treaty which sets GHG reduction targets for the US and other developed countries. Completed in 1998, the US has not yet signed (Argentina is the largest economy to have signed). This is politically controversial because it would require the US to cut CO2 emissions, which is potentially costly.
Effects on the US: A Congressional national assessment on climate change, published in June 2000, predicts:
* An average temperature rise of 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit, with gentler winters and more summer heat waves.
* More agricultural production and forest growth due to carbon dioxide fertilization; but loss of coastal wetlands and Alpine meadows.
* More winter rain, with a 10% increase in overall precipitation, but a 60% increase in the Southwest.
* More extreme storms and more pollution runoff due to rainstorms.
* More drought in the Midwest, especially in Kansas and Colorado; and a 5-foot drop in Great Lakes water levels.
For sources, see http://issues2000.org/Background_Environment.htm
For candidates' views on global warming, see http://issues2000.org/News_Global_Warming.htm
For their views on environment in general see http://issues2000.org/Environment.htm
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