The Truth About Global Warming

Global Warming is a rapidly growing issue in American society. Many scientists have proven the existence of Global Warming, but the reasons for such is still in part speculated. Al Gore expressed the issue of Global Warming in the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” with a presentation full of maps, graphs, charts, statistics, and photos. Gore presents many facts about Global Warming, but also makes examples that do not directly relate to Global Warming. He presents Global Warming as the rising levels of greenhouse gasses, mainly carbon dioxide, causing a state of environmental emergency. Gore speculates that the devastation of hurricane Katrina in 2005 was a direct result of Global Warming; also Gore mentions that the melting ice cap of Mt. Kilimanjaro is because of Global Warming. Gore says that Global Warming is causing stronger storms, such as Katrina, and rising temperatures causing Mt. Kilimanjaro’s ice cap to melt.

Mt. Kilimanjaro lies 220 miles south of the Equator on the continent of Africa. The ice fields of Kilimanjaro are known as tropical ice fields. Ohio State University Geologist Lonnie Thompson published a report saying that Tropical glaciers are more vulnerable to climate change; even small temperature changes can cause major devastation to the ice. A climatologist from The University of Massachusetts Douglass R. Hardy, who has been recording temperatures from the mountain since 2000, mentions that “forest reduction in the areas surrounding Kilimanjaro, and not global warming, might be the strongest human influence on glacial recession.” Hardy points to honey collectors smoking out bees which in turn cause forest fires, and clearing of land for agricultural purposes for melting ice caps. The loss of vegetation causes less moisture in the air directly causing less cloud cover, which in turn causes higher temperatures. Many scientists conclude there is evidence of tropical glaciers receding since 1912. However most note that dramatic drops in lake levels surrounding Kilimanjaro indicate less rainfall and cloudiness dating back to 1880. These are all major factors contributing to the rapid melting of Kilimanjaro’s ice caps. In the documentary Al Gore explains that global warming is in fact the cause of this devastation on Mt. Kilimanjaro. There is no contestation that the glaciers of Kilimanjaro are melting, but the causes are not global warming (Minarcek).

In the documentary (An Inconvenient Truth) Gore presents the idea that global warming is causing greater storms. His main example is hurricane Katrina that hit New Orleans in 2005. Gore presented many pictures of the devastation, flooding, and people of New Orleans. Gore has no real evidence points to global warming causing stronger storms. Instead he uses the pictures of devastation from hurricane Katrina to make his audience believe out of sympathy. There is no doubt that Katrina was a very powerful storm that caused much devastation, but how strong was it? Katrina was measured a category five hurricane, the strongest on the scale, and the first of the twenty-first century. The last category five hurricane was Camille which made landfall in Mississippi in 1969, causing much less devastation totaling only seven deaths due to proper evacuation and point of landfall. What made Katrina so much more popular was the negligence of the government and citizens of Louisiana. On average the city of New Orleans is five feet below see level. The levee system surrounding the city was only built to withstand a slow moving category two or a fast moving category three hurricane. The system was overloaded by Katrina causing it to fail. The pumps in the levees could not pump the water out because they were completely submerged. Since the pumps could not function the flood waters had nowhere to go, which is what caused the city to stay underwater for weeks. This flooding is what caused most of the physical damage to the city. The rest of the disaster was brought on by the people of New Orleans. The government did not have a proper evacuation program in place causing a great number of people stranded in the city. The Superdome was used as a shelter for the remaining citizens. The slow reaction of the government left these people stranded in the Superdome, without food or fresh drinking water. Citizens began looting and stealing for survival. In the aftermath of Katrina the media blamed the category five storm for such devastation, when in fact it was the hurricane procedures and people of New Orleans to blame for the mass destruction of the city (McCarragher).

Gore uses these two examples of global warming effects without proper facts. If Kilimanjaro’s melting glaciers were caused by global warming it would be a proper example. However since it is caused by other factors it is not a proper example of global warming Gore creates doubt amidst his audience when he uses examples that do not directly relate to his cause. The pictures and evidence of melting glaciers on Mt. Kilimanjaro and the destruction of hurricane Katrina is very real and convincing, but they are not applicable to Gore’s presentation. He uses them to create support for his cause with ignorance of their cause. With more time and effort it may be possible to disprove more of Gore’s ideas and examples of global warming. Scientific facts have disproved the two ideas chosen for this paper and have caused reasonable doubt for Gore’s entire presentation on global warming.