Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Global Warming Debate Sparks interest

A student-faculty debate on global warming tonight in Montgomery Hall provided laughter, applause, and informed exchange. There were two students and two faculty members, with one student and one faculty member on one side of the issue, and another two on the other side.

Representing the side of the skeptic were student Bret Shapot and Professor Mark McCready, Chair, Chemical and Biochemical engineering.Professor McCready discusses the difficulties of measuring many elements in the atmosphere.

McCready discussed how we get our temperature, that is, greenhouse gases, especially water vapor and Carbon Dioxide. Starting in the 1960s, CO2 emissions began increasing rapidly, and during the same period of time temperatures steadily increased.

McCready did make the point that it is impossible to predict many things in the atmosphere, mainly because the last 150 years of cloud data is missing. "The uncertainty is almost as great as the effect," said McCready.

Shapot began his talk by assuring the audience that his plans of going to work for a big oil company next year have no impact on his views.Shapot jokes with the audience about his plans to work for an oil company.

Shapot informed the audience of the importance of the missing cloud data that McCready talked about. "Water vapor is an often overlooked greenhouse gas, but it has 100 times the global warming potential as CO2," Shapot said.

He also spoke of the notion that global warming can lead to severe natural disasters. "It is ridiculous to say that we can predict hurricanes down the road when we can't predict the weather next week."

Ayala and Mori look on as McCready makes a point.

The other side of the debate was represented by political science professor Louis Ayala and student Hannah Mori. The soft-spoken Mori was difficult to understand but did pronounce clearly her stated thesis: something must be done. "You can't count on the economy to regulate itself," Mori argued.

Ayala announced that he had been summoned to participate in this debate at 6:00 tonight due to an illness of one of the professors who was supposed to talk. He talked about the importance of government regulation in order to "ensure the protection of public goods," such as clean air and a stable environment.

He argued that even if we are skeptical of the global warming data, steps to solve the problem will, at worst, lead to a cleaner environment.

1 comment:

Brandon said...

Professor Ayala is right on. Regardless of whether humans are causing accelerated global warming, why wouldn't we want cleaner air (and water for that matter)?