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My first-hand view of global warming

By: Stephen Hesterberg, Posted: 10/12/10

The peak was an off-white color, a mixture of dirt and ice. The thin layer, which followed the contour of the mountainside, was much smaller than I had imagined, nothing like the glaciers seen on National Geographic. 

At the time, the view from the glacier was magnificent. My friend and I, visiting Glacier National Park in northern Montana, watched as the melting water cascaded down the mountainside to form wide rivers nearly 6,000 feet below us. 

Wondering the glacier's name, I quickly pulled out the park's informational brochure and began searching. I instead found something that horrified me.

"At current rates of global warming, it's projected that there will be no more glaciers in Glacier National Park by 2020."


I turned to my friend and asked him what he thought about the brochure. He shrugged and said, "Sure, things are warming, but the climate goes through cycles, it's not us." 

I bit my lip. I didn't want to get into a fight about climate change on the side of a mountain. Instead I just blankly stared at the valley below and hoped that it wasn't too late for both the water and my friend. 

With evidence such as decreasing glacier size, it astonishes me there are still people in our society, and even at DePauw, that don't believe global warming is caused by human activity.

Sometimes there just aren't two sides to a particular issue. 

Unfortunately, politicians whose interests are in keeping climate change a controversy have slandered global warming as "liberal propaganda." Even worse, the American public listens to these emotive arguments that claim climate change is a falsehood or not anthropogenically caused.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) is a perfect example. Inhofe, currently the ranking Republican on the Senate environment and public-works committee, is an avid global-warming skeptic. 

His argument? 700 "scientists" rejected the global-warming consensus. These "scientists," however, range from computer modelers to economists. Inhofe's argument is based strictly off of opinion.

Instead of listening to politicians or your local dentist for climate science, we should be listening to people who actually have doctorates in climate science.

Climate scientists have been repeating the same message to no avail: Even though the global climate cycles throughout history, the presence of atmospheric carbon dioxide has far exceeded any normal levels during earth's past warming trends. Also, ever since the beginning of the industrial revolution, atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased exponentially. In other words, the atmospheric carbon dioxide is anthropogenically linked. 

This message is evident in repeated scientific studies. In 1998, climate scientists from Russia, France and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association conducted one of the most conclusive studies by yielding one of the deepest ice cores ever recovered. The project, conducted at the Vostock field station in eastern Antarctica, produced climate data that spans more than 400,000 years and encompasses four different climate cycles. 

The data is clear: during all four climate cycles atmospheric carbon dioxide peaked at around 275 parts per million and bottomed around 180 parts per million. 

According to the NOAA, the current level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 386 parts per million.

The numbers speak for themselves. There is no debate over climate change. Anthropogenically caused global warming is occurring. 

It's time to stop listening to emotive arguments and look at the facts: Humans are causing the glaciers to melt in Glacier National Park.

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