Title: Is Global Warming a Threat?
Author: Mary E. Williams (editor)
Published: 2003

Overview: This book presents essays by 13 experts who examine the relationship between the rise in greenhouse gas concentrations and its impact on global climate change. The fields represented include biogeography, environmental studies, policy analysis, astrophysics, economy, politics, among others. Contributors include Robert T. Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and chief scientist at the World Bank, H. Sterling Burnett, the environmental policy analyst, and Philip Stott, professor of biogeography at London University.

Detail: The book presents a range of viewpoints, from those who strongly believe that human activity is precipitating a global climate change with potentially catastrophic results for humankind, to those that believe that global warming is not driven primarily by human activity or who believe the results of global warming will be beneficial. While their opinions vary, no expert denies that greenhouse gas concentrations are rising or that global temperatures have risen over the last 100 years.

According to Sallie Baliunas, human-induced global warming is insignificant. She claims that as of now, no catastrophic human-induced global warming effects have been demonstrated. Baliunas is an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She is also chair of the Science Advisory Board at the George C. Marshall Institute in Washington, DC. (since 1998, G. C. Marshall Institute has received $515,000 from Exxon Corporation,)

On the other hand Robert T. Watson, chair of IPCC, declares that scientists already have strong evidence that global warming due to human activities is happening. He argues that rising sea levels, thinning Arctic ice, changing weather precipitation patterns and rising global average temperatures can all be traced to human activity and influence.

Some skeptics, like Thomas Gale Moore, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, are convinced that global warming will be beneficial. For example, heating costs will decline, and increased plant growth will help to feed a growing world population. He does not acknowledge that global warming will have a significant effect on the world economy and human health. Edward Goldsmith, founder and publisher of The Ecologist, Europe’s leading environmental journal, argues that rising sea levels are a serious threat for major coastal cities, resulting in displacing urban populations and, as a consequence, exacerbating poverty. Businesses like the insurance industry will suffer as well. Extreme weather events that occur as a consequence of global warming will enable tropical diseases to spread into new regions.

Three Points of Personal Interest:

1. A one-metre rise in sea level will be sufficient to flood most of New York City, including all three major airports.

2. 80% of greenhouse gases are produced by only 122 corporations.

3. In the Alps, by 2025 glaciers will have lost 90% of the volume of ice that was there a century ago.