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Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 15:02 GMT
Global warming: Are we doing enough?
Antarctic peninsula
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A 200-metre thick Antarctic ice shelf larger than the American state of Rhode Island and weighing 500 billion tonnes has broken apart in less than two months.

Experts say that this might be an indication of a strong climate change in the Antarctic.

In 1998, researchers from the British Antarctic Survey predicted that several ice shelves were doomed because of rising temperatures in the region - but the pace with which events are developing has shocked them.

Some experts say that this was a "purely natural phenomenon". Others suggest that the break-off might have been caused by global warming and warn that if the Kyoto agreement is not implemented, more similar events could be expected in the future.

The Kyoto protocol on combating global warming nearly collapsed last year when the US decided to pull out of it.

Do you think that global warming is a real threat? Are governments doing enough to combat it?

We discussed these issues in Talking Point, the phone-in programme of the BBC World Service and BBC News Online. Our guest was Jeremy Leggett of the Environmental Change Institute in Oxford.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

I have no doubt that global warming is occurring. I would however suggest that the only effective way to reduce the effect of our damage to the ecosystem is to reduce the population. This planet was never intended to support so many people and it is clear that we will all pretty soon be standing on each others heads. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life like that? Increasing temperatures are ideal for growing all sorts of nasty biological cross bred diseases so perhaps it will be one of these that will ultimately reduce our thermal runaway!
Dave, Chatham Kent UK

During the early 1960's I was involved in climate history research at Stockholm University. This was before Rachael Carlson's book Silent Spring had made the climate and environment sensitive issues. There was room for impartial observation.

We were taught, and we observed and we accepted that the climate has never been stable since the last Ice Age - say the last ten thousand years. We were taught that the last glaciation was terminated by a violent and catastrophic warming of the climate, as witnessed by deposits from that time. We were taught that, during the Stone Age in Sweden, there were oak forests north of the Arctic Circle and that the stumps are still there. Why, then, must the present warming be attributed solely to mankind's exhaust fumes? What is it that motivates politicians and scientists to blame these fumes without considering all available evidence? Can we be the victims of a gigantic scientific hoax?
Worried climate-watcher

You can't tell under developed countries to stop developing

Sayer, USA
It's futile to try to do anything. Even if the west were to cut its emission of green house gases the world demand for fossil fuel will steadily increase. You can't tell under developed countries to stop developing. Development takes energy and that energy will come from the consumption of fossil fuel. "Renewable" sources of energy account for only 2% of world needs and that percentage is not likely to increase quickly enough to do any good. No - get used to it and stock up on sun screen. The world is going to get warmer.
Sayer, USA

It is true that climate change in nothing new. However, evidence of abrupt climate change in the past should serve as a warning rather than as encouragement to disregard our impacts on the Earth's climate. The climate has a tendency to flip between different states; by producing greenhouse gases we are merely increasing the chances that dramatic climate change will happen sooner rather than later.

Societies have adapted to climate change in the past, but they have done so by radically changing their means of food production (e.g. adopting sedentary agriculture) and mass migration. These options are severely limited today because of high population densities and geopolitical factors. In many ways we are more poorly equipped to adapt to climate change than our ancestors were. The worst effects will be felt in the developing world. Are those who advocate doing nothing for economic reasons prepared for their countries to accept millions of migrants fleeing the worst effects of climate change?
Dr Nick Brooks, Norwich, UK

Come on, get real! Does anyone still believe that governments are capable of doing anything useful? They are only concerned with getting re-elected. It is up to ordinary people to use energy more efficiently.
Shaun, UK

What a load of nonsense! The NOAA satellites have been monitoring temperatures for 23 years and have detected no warming. The ice peninsula in question had been growing for many years and was bound to break away sooner or later. The Global Warming Brigade clutch at any "evidence" to prove their cause in their quest to take us back to the Stone Age. Back in the 1600's, temperatures were 2 degrees higher than they are today without any man-made CO2 emissions. We are being led up the garden path!
Andy, Manchester, England

I don't think we are doing enough at the moment, but we will soon once we are all more aware of the juggernaut of a problem that this global warming is. Its all about consumer demand - where are all the emission-free cars and solar powered roofing manufacturers out there? Why don't our sport stars, pop stars, chat show hosts and even members of the Royal Family set the example and make this fashionable. Why don't the politicians jump at the chance to pour money and incentive into "green" research and technologies. It's obvious the international demand will follow.
William Grace, US, ex UK

More than 70% of the warming that took place in the last century happened before 1940, i.e. before the greatest period of industrialisation and the rise of the motorcar which the anti-technology green movement like to blame for all our ills. Furthermore the computer models used to predict future warming use tree ring data to determine temperatures up to 1900 and thermometer readings from then on. The resulting graph has been described as looking like a bungalow built onto a skyscraper. Global warming as a result of human activity is a mistaken belief based on bad science. The sooner everybody accepts that and we bury the issue and move on to deal with more pressing problems such as starvation and poverty the better.
Phil, Oxford, UK

We are certainly not doing enough to reduce anthropogenic emissions which contribute to global warming. Having spent three years of my PhD reading the scientific literature concerning changes in ecosystems in response to climate change I am sure that what is predicted to happen next century will occur. Of course the earth has its own climatic cycles but it must be an ignorant person to think that 6 billion people consuming the earth does not have an adverse effect on the atmosphere!
Matt, Durham, UK

We are attending to a significant, progressive climatic change.That's a fact. We must not waste our time fighting about whether that change is human-dependant or not .In both cases we must do something to protect ourselves. We need much more information before acting .Like in Medicine, the first step is diagnosis. An early diagnosis!
Jorge Muttoni, Montevideo,Uruguay

It must be recognised that the earth as a whole undergoes cyclic climatic changes

AN Strahler, Inverness, Scotland
It is increasingly worrying in general that the paradox between human development and environmental degradation continues. It is true that CO2 levels during warmer climatic stages have been higher, but global warming and its influences must be considered with respect to how it affects different areas, ie. global warming has a relative effect. Moreover, it must be recognised that the earth as a whole undergoes cyclic climatic changes, which include warm and cold stages. It might be time that humans realised that the earth has a more significant, independent role to play in climate change, as quaternary studies have shown.
AN Strahler, Inverness, Scotland

Global warming is a real problem threatening humanity. As an artist, working on nature and the elements, I can see more and more signs that indicate climatic change. The only way to tackle the issue is by means of an international and global effort. It is totally unacceptable and immoral, that the US behaves in a way that is not only egoistic but also irresponsible.
Michael Franke, Breskens, Netherlands

Because the future effects of Global Warming are far more dangerous and colossal than the present economic gain by few wealthy nations

Abel Voker Monrovia, Liberia
Certainly, there is Global warming. And USA as a World economic power house needs to relax it economic interest and reduce its emission of greenhouse gas to 7% below its 1990 level as provided by the Kyoto protocol. Because the future effects of Global Warming are far more dangerous and colossal than the present economic gain by a few wealthy nations like America, Japan, and others G-7 members who emit huge greenhouse gases.
Abel Voker Monrovia, Liberia

There is no doubt that global warming must be happening to some extent, due to us burning fossil fuels and destroying forests. There is also no doubt that so far our attempts to steer our habits away from this, and towards renewables, are feeble by comparison to what is needed.
I N Dyson, UK

In Europe we should stop slanging off the Americans all the time. They need to cut down their consumption sure, but it's about time us Europeans started taking some action ourselves. Just look at a satellite photo of Europe from the air at night and look at all that wasted energy, or drive past a retail park after hours. We have a long way to go before we can really starting advising other. Whenever this argument normally comes up the Europeans spring their own defence by saying that we have signed Kyoto. True, but will this really make any difference, 8% emissions reductions on 1990 levels is hardly something to proud of.
James, UK

Frequently I see cars with the engines running and nobody sitting in them!

Peter Bolton, UK/US
Frequently, when I'm at my college, I see cars with the engines running and nobody sitting in them! Doubtless this is because the occupant(s) have "just popped in" for one reason another, but that's beside the point. Point is that it (that practice) creates unnecessary pollution. Needless to say, when I see this, I want to jump into the offending car, and turn off the ignition, but the driver of this car would think I was trying to steal it!!
Peter Bolton, UK/US

The reality is that the Earth's population is in excess of 6 billion and growing steadily. Regardless of whether you believe in global warming or not, the reality is that the Earth is a finite resource that has been affected by the huge human population. We must deal with global warming, because even if it's not a problem now, it will inevitably be. Given the dependence on fossil fuels, people must begin to seriously think about change.
Trevor Allsopp, Perth, Australia

If global warming continues then Britons and other people from cold regions will not have to fly to warm places for holidays, therefore there will be less jet fumes released in the atmosphere, then CO2 will be reduced and so will global temperature and we'll be back to square one. How about that?
Thanos, Athens, Greece

I was in Tokyo today to enjoy the annual cherry blossom festival. However, this year the blossoms arrived much earlier

Ryo, Tokyo, Japan
I was in Tokyo today to enjoy the annual cherry blossom festival. However, this year the blossoms arrived much earlier than it had ever been recorded in history. I believe that the story of the ice land breaking off is unrelated to this. Nature's response is very honest, and only does what it thinks is appropriate given the environment it exists in. The experience today was mind-boggling.
Ryo, Tokyo, Japan

Scientist have a nerve, having been completely discredited by such storms as foot and mouth, the public sees them for what they are now, self important puppets of various industries. Why should climate and energy be any different? Regardless of the scientific arguments it is in our interests as individuals to find healthier and more sustainable ways of living, whatever effect this might ultimately have on the planet and each other. Driving through our towns at 5 mph in a vehicle capable of ascending mountains, with an empty 3 piece suite clearly doesn't make efficiency, economic and healthy sense when you can cycle comfortably at 10mph, and increase that easily to 15 or 20 mph if in a hurry.

I agree with the opening statement that the break-off is the result of strong climatic change. The add-on statement that this change is the result of global warming is pure speculation and is nothing more than a sales pitch to ensure further research funding. With the exception of a brief period 330 million years ago, carbon dioxide levels are the lowest that they have ever been, and the polar ice-caps as at their largest since the "snow-ball" earth (540Ma). The observed climatic changes are the result of cycles and changes in weather patterns, not from rises in global temperature averages.
Callum, Oslo, Norway

Why on earth do people think that producing toxic waste of any kind is better than a cleaner alternative?

Aidy, Sheffield UK
It doesn't really matter whether either side of the arguments is correct. Why on earth do people think that producing toxic waste of any kind is better than a cleaner alternative.... global warming or no global warming. I don't get these people enjoy smog?
Aidy, Sheffield UK

Maybe we are warming the earth, maybe not. Either way we know that fossil fuels are poisonous and finite. Where do you live? Do you ever see a blue sky? We were blessed with one in Melbourne today but Australia should follow Kyoto and more to preserve what so many have already forgotten.
Josh W, Melbourne Australia

World leaders discussing global warming? It's a lot of hot air.
Rob Holman, Chislehurst, England

I don't care whether there's a proven link between human activity and global warming. I don't care whether there's any proof that global warming is even occurring. Surely, if there is even a small chance that we are influencing global climate, it makes total sense to take prudent action in terms of reducing output of greenhouse gasses.
John, England

The simple fact is that everyone wants everyone else to change their ways or what they do to damage the environment, but no-one wants to do it themselves

Paul Charters, London, England
The simple fact is that everyone wants everyone else to change their ways or what they do to damage the environment, but no-one wants to do it themselves. For example, people talk about traffic reduction, but everyone is hoping everyone else will do it so they can get around in their own cars more easily. Unfortunately, due to political wrangling and excessive over-the-top lobbying by extremists, most people have become confused about the realities of global warming. It was earlier this year, for instance, that I heard a report saying we had slowed global warming by man to a standstill - which appears to not be true, or is it? That's what we really need to know - the facts, unmarred by bias or extremists - maybe a good Panorama?
Paul Charters, London, England

Global Warming you say? If it means that I don't have to fly to Lanzarote to get some sun in ten years, then I'm all for it!
Lee J, UK

Don't waste our tax on the weapons and wars! Let us improve our environment!
Rui, Lancaster University

I fear that individuals neither have the capacity nor the motivation to alter their lifestyles to alleviate the dangers of global warming. In order to have any kind of effect, the governments of the world have to "force", if needs be, their polices which would go some way in tackling this global problem. Asking someone not to throw their old refrigerator on the city dump or refrain from using anti-persperant is a waste of time.
Edward, Manchester, UK

I reckon that if global warming is to stop, the activities of the multinational corporations should be regulated. They are so blind that they cannot see that their activities are not only destroying the poor peoples' resources but they are inimical to fauna and flora, let alone their own lives. This is absolutely absurd. If this is a result of capitalist intoxication then we need an alternative system that can take into consideration the environment and all its occupants. I therefore propose that socialism is the panacea for these ills.
Sedula, Gauteng, South Africa

In my view the question has the wrong focus indicating that we can actually stop climate change if we take action

James, England
In my view the question has the wrong focus indicating that we can actually stop climate change if we take action. Although it is desirable to reduce emissions, it is unlikely that we can actually slow down the trend considerably. Indeed as the IPCC confirms, we are locked into a certain degree of climate change regardless of what action we take now. We place too much focus on reducing emissions and too little focus on how we may adapt to change. Take the Kyoto protocol - a vastly expensive process which will reduce emissions by around 5% on 1990 levels from developed countries by around 2010 - 2012. This will have no impact on climate change, although it is important from a symbolic perspective. If only half the money were put into assessing how such change will affect, where this change will be greatest, and how we can adapt and plan for the future we would be in a much better position to face an inevitable future threat.
James, England

So, the fracturing of the Antarctic ice shelves is speeding up at 'shocking speed'! What's next? The Ronne ice shelf? God prevent that! Warm air starts pushing towards the glaciers of the continent proper. Scientists once calculated the melting speed of ice in relation to their entire volume (during the short Antarctic summers). Which gave us some time to act upon. Now they have discovered that pools of melting water on top of the ice sheets act like wedges that cleave the sheets at tremendous speed. What once was believed to take tens or hundreds of years now happens in less than three months. Surprise, surprise! Mother Earth starts acting like a mediocre science-fiction novel, right under our own eyes. A new warning that we will probably will continue to ignore, since there are so much more important matters like the tariffs on steel import and our annual pay rise.
Don Bierman, Amsterdam, Netherlands

"To prevent global warming will cost money" someone argues. Please explain what is the cost of driving a sensible fuel-efficient car instead of a gas guzzling 4-wheel drive truck? There are plenty of other ways in which saving energy saves money, so please lets stop this pretence that we can't afford to cut CO2 emissions.
Marcus Jones, Oxfordshire, UK

As long as money is a factor and the economy of a country is priority over a doomed environment (take note US), we are doomed as a race. And perhaps that is not a bad thing. Since our very existence we have been like a cancer to this planet. Who cares as long as the rich get richer?
Chris, UK

No country is perfect and when it comes to oil use yes the US is probably the least efficient user of the stuff

Bill, UK
What concerns me about a number of US responses is the way they stick their head in the sand in response to criticism from other people. Well no country is perfect and when it comes to oil use yes the US is probably the least efficient user of the stuff. This doesn't equate to us hating the US and thinking all problems in the world are the fault of the US. We are merely trying to draw attention to the fact that it might be in all our interests to start using less fossil fuels and as the US uses the most per head of any country in the world then don't you think it would serve the US to start using less - what happens when supplies start to run out? I bet 18MPG SUV's will not be considered that cool then. No country is perfect but the point is we all have to try to reduce fossil fuel use.
Bill, UK

There is nothing that we can do which will affect global warming. It is due to the activity of the sun reducing cloud cover. In the past massive changes in temperature - global rises of +10C within the space of five years! - have taken place with no humans in sight, all due to the variability of the sun.
John Muir, Cologne, Germany

When Mother Nature has had enough she will get rid of us period. Blame the US, scream to god for help, but it won't matter. When the lady sings our last song, we are through.
Willy, Bronx New York USA

Are the people on this site who claim the effect of man on the environment is negligible the same people who claim smoking does not cause lung cancer?
Andrew, Auckland, NZ

It's important to remember that the Kyoto Protocol is only talking about a miniscule reduction of 1990 greenhouse gas levels - about 5%, compared to scientific community's recommendations of 60-80% reductions

Tim Cadman, Bellingen, Australia
It's important to remember that the Kyoto Protocol is only talking about a miniscule reduction of 1990 greenhouse gas levels - about 5%, compared to scientific community's recommendations of 60-80% reductions. To make matters worse, some countries have also "rotted" the whole concept of "carbon sequestration" - i.e. planting trees to "offset" increased emissions, and then selling those sequestered carbon "credits" with polluters. In Australia for example, old growth forest in Tasmania is being cut down and replaced with "carbon credit" plantations! Whilst the international community that supports Kyoto will find this concept ethically unsustainable, it is still happening in Australia and others countries who have and will sign up to the so-called "Bush Plan" for non-Kyoto related actions.
Tim Cadman, Bellingen, Australia

There is no issue where there is a greater disconnect between perception and reality. I see some comments that indicate that companies like Enron are hindering efforts to confront global warming. In reality Enron lobbied heavily in favour of the Kyoto protocol because as an energy trader they concluded that they could profit from emission credit trading. They were also part of the campaign to smear scientists who disagree with the greenhouse theory. That is probably not front-page news in most places, but neither is the Oregon Petition where 18,000 climate experts challenge the scientific basis for Kyoto. They point out that satellites and weather balloons show no atmospheric warming in last twenty years, that the models used by the IPCC are flawed and sensitive to CO2, our lack of knowledge of cloud physics, and the general political nature of the Kyoto debate. However, their voices are muted. Instead we are spoon fed by the media that all scientists are greenhouse proponents and that all corporations, not scientific uncertainty, are the dissenting forces in the greenhouse debate. Hysteria rules, and the objective pursuit of scientific fact falls by the wayside.

There is nothing that we can do which will affect global warming. It is due to the activity of the sun reducing cloud cover. In the past, massive changes in temperature - global rises of +10C within the space five years! - have taken place, with no humans in sight, all due to the variability of the sun.
John Muir, Cologne, Germany

We are still in what is regarded as a 'cool' era for the Earth

Steve Donegan, Honolulu, USA
Speaking as a geologist, the Earth's climate has changed fluctuated many times in the past 600 million years, and we are still in what is regarded as a 'cool' era for the Earth. I think people and governments need to spend more time on true risks to the global population rather than the 'trendy' global warming mantra: namely the effect on ground waters of pollution--we can restrict greenhouse gas emissions all we like to no proved effect but it is next to impossible to clean up an aquifer especially as many do not get replenished for tens of thousands of years. So perhaps a radical change around in landfill usage and more enforced recycling perhaps?
Steve Donegan, Honolulu, USA

I suspect that future generations will be baffled that we did not reduce greenhouse gasses by making more use of nuclear power. Nuclear power produces much less greenhouse emissions, doesn't use up our precious fossil fuel resources, and is as cheap or cheaper than power produced from coal or oil.
Dom, Australia

The hole above the Ozone layer has increased by over 500% since the industrial revolution in the late 1800's. I don't think that can be attributed to natural phenomenon.
Brad, New Zealand

I feel the main problem is that we don't know what is damaging the environment until it is too late

Peter Slack, Rayleigh Essex
The damage to the environment is a very widespread topic. As it can be looked on a very local aspect and a worldwide problem. I feel the main problem is that we don't know what is damaging the environment until it is too late. For example DDT this was tested and found to kill only pests like flies etc. As soon as it was used in the environment it caused wide spread damage and lasting effects. By the time it was realised the damage was already done.
Peter Slack, Rayleigh Essex

As a 17-year-old student, studying geography at A2 level, and taking on a geography degree in the coming October, global warming is a huge issue. We know that fluctuations in temperature have occurred in the past, and this may be a reason contributing to "global warming". However, it is reasonable to blame human activity. People did not know the effects that their actions may have had on the planet when they started burning fossil fuels, and when they were developing (which many still are).
Eleanor Blundell, Warrington, England

What is normal temperature? 700 years ago there were vineyards as far north a Yorkshire. 300 years ago there were frost fairs on the frozen Thames. Climate change happens despite what we do not necessarily because of what we do.
Peter Cowan, London UK

Well I for one welcome the idea that this planet might warm up a little. It's been freezing here for months, and I'm fed up with it.
Tim, Oregon, USA (From UK)

With the economical growth that the human civilization is going through, it has to pay a price in return

Ahmed Qadri, Chicago, United States
It is understood that with the economical growth that the human civilization is going through, it has to pay a price in return, which in this case is global warming. Being a student of chemistry, I strongly believe that predicting environmental trends in science is a process mired in imprecision and uncertainty. Scientific tradition, when applied to an issue like global warming blocks a person from understanding it in greater depths. We can predict something, but we can never be sure how the environment will react for it to happen. I am sure in this world of limitless hopes, global warming will not turn out as bad as the scientists suggest. I hope that our mother nature will adapt itself to the changing climate. However I would say that human's dominion on this planet has disrupted the laws of the nature.
Ahmed Qadri, Chicago, United States

I am not a sophisticated geologist or climatologist, but I have lived long enough to know that it has been getting hotter and hotter in the tropics of Africa in the last two decades or so. As it gets hotter, people are clamouring for cheaper air-conditioners. Cheap imports and local varieties of questionable engineering appear as if from hot air. With the polluting nations not setting a good example, I think unscrupulous manufacturers in the new countries are using non-ozone friendly coolant gases. We cant stop killing each other, lets at least stop killing our lovely blue home.
Austin Amadasun, Lagos, Nigeria

The fact is that to reduce CO2 emissions will mean a lot of people making a lot of changes, and not just those who have to travel. Household heating creates more than twice as much CO2 as transport does. Which is more important to you? To live in a warm house or to travel to work? It seems that the Government would rather we have warm houses than have us travelling to work, seeing that they only put a paltry 5% tax on heating fuel.
Peter H, Bristol, UK

In the future, humanity will engineer solutions to cool the earth

Joe, New York, USA
All of these save the earth plans will simply postpone the problem for a few generations. In the future, humanity will either engineer solutions to cool the earth such as ozone layer generation and deflectors to reduce the sun's energy reaching earth or dredge the oceans to raise land above sea level. This latter option has been accomplished is cities such as Singapore and Boston already. If this doesn't work, the human body will evolve to the new conditions, larger lungs, webbed feet etc. Go out and enjoy the sunshine.
Joe, New York, USA

I'm not selfish; I'm just not doing anything because no one else is!
Chris Warwick, UK

Ecosystems on earth are scales too huge for humans to fully understand. No scientists would assert that global warming has been proven true, while each citizen on this planet should instead be humbler to Nature
Wu, Tzi-Yu, Taiwan

If you really want to do something about global warming, instead of using your polluting car, use a train, bus, plane, and bicycle or walk instead. Or better still; avoid the need to travel at all if you can (e.g. work/shop from home). Most people put their own well-being in front of the Planet Earth they live on.
Anders, Kent, UK

How can we possibly be doing enough? We haven't even conclusively proven that global warming is a manmade phenomenon. It wasn't very long ago we were being told of another impending Ice Age.
John B, UK

As around 0.035% of the earth's atmosphere is CO2, and around 3% of CO2 emissions are from man made sources, do you really think we can have a great effect?

Keith W, UK
As around 0.035% of the earth's atmosphere is CO2, and around 3% of CO2 emissions are from man made sources, do you really think we can have a great effect? Most of the polar ice caps are getting colder. Over the past 23 years during which we have had accurate temperature records, global temperatures have been largely stable. The only real solution anyone seems to have in the UK is to blame the USA and tell people to take the bus. As buses are barely more energy than cars such ideas show peoples real reasons for supporting the global warming industry.
Keith W, UK

Fundamentally, this problem is due to non-renewable energy consumption. There is significant progress being made in terms of providing what western democracies would consider to be the 'optimum solution' i.e. market based through carbon trading and the increasing availability of a range of renewable energy technologies. However, most of the ineffectiveness behind the tackling of these issues stems from the fragmentation of environmental policy making. Should the global community now be considering as a matter of urgency the establishment of a substantially resourced, scientifically focussed Global Environment Organisation? Such an environmental 'structure of governance' could be housed within the UN, superseding the role of UNEP and may indeed be the only way that climate change and other forms of trans-boundary pollution will ever receive the recognition it deserves.
Matt, UK

Global warming is a current problem. A lot of measures are already taken, but the problem has not been solved yet. We do not think there is a perfect solution, but we can pay more attention to not making the greenhouse effect worse. Factories could, for example, take extra measures, to avoid an environmental disaster and we could try to use our car less. The government can give subsidies to factories which wanted to do extra effort to help solve the problem. The government also can raise the taxes on petrol. Nobody can give us the guarantee that these measures will help, but it is a good start.
Nathalie en Jasmien,

The only thing that matters to us is money

Lode Hoeyberghs, Wim Hermans, Leuven Belgium
And again mankind is acting like a fool. We still don't seem to realise what we are doing to the world. The only thing that matters to us is money. As long as we have to sacrifice personal happiness for a better world, nobody is willing to take the challenge. That is what is happening with global warming. We need new technology, less polluting cars and industry, etc. to face this big problem. We have always been screwing our planet, therefore, in the future; we'd better give something in return. The problem is inside of us.
Lode Hoeyberghs, Wim Hermans, Leuven Belgium

People are now meant to be so much aware of the Earth and more intelligent than before yet we ignore all of our own Worlds illnesses. Why not just treat the Earth like it was our own child? It is basically our parent, nevermind child.
Jake Indriks, Bradford, UK

The potential economic benefits alone of policies for reducing CO2 emissions should spur us into action. For instance, reducing private car use alone could lead to:

  • a fitter population which walks and cycles more (less expenditure on treatment of obesity-related disease, and millions of lost workdays avoided);
  • reductions in air pollution (up to 24,000 lives/year saved);
  • reductions in deaths and injuries on the roads (every fatal accident costs the economy around 1.2 million, and every serious accident 175,000 - Surrey CC estimate)
  • elimination of congestion (up to 19 billion/year saved);
  • a reduced need to own a car (3,500/year to run a small car - RAC estimate);
  • increased property values (estate agents say that traffic calming can boost house prices by up to 10%);
  • increased patronage of public transport (increased revenue to invest).
With all these local and visible benefits, who CARES whether CO2 is a greenhouse gas?
Peter Barber, Manchester, England

When Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991 it spewed into the air more 'Greenhouse' gasses than have ever been produced by mankind in our entire history

Kb, UK
When Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991 it spewed into the air more 'Greenhouse' gasses than have ever been produced by mankind in our entire history. Whilst I'm happy to agree that we should make smarter use of our natural resources, destroying national economies in a bid to stop the unstoppable is just foolish. By the way... whilst complaining about the US consuming 25% of the world's resources (who counted?), let's remember they also create over 33% of the world's wealth. Before the bearded bicycle brigade jumps on it... wealth isn't just rich people with fancy cars. It's food on the table of millions, it's research into disease that kills countless people in the world, and it's clean water, a stable infrastructure.... So give the Yanks a break already and come up with ideas rather than just criticisms.
Kb, UK

I think anyone who's asking for scientific unanimity on this point doesn't understand the nature of science. I'm sure I could dig up a 'scientist' somewhere who still believes the earth is flat. Because science, unlike politics or business, is rigorous, it is almost impossible to definitively prove something is true; the best one can do is pay attention to overwhelming evidence. It's interesting that most of the money is on the side of those denying human-induced climate change, & yet the majority voice is still suggesting it's going on. Even with large amounts of money to inflate their seeming authority, the "no global warming" camp are a small minority within the scientific community.
Andrew T, London, UK

I can't believe how ignorant people are. Most of the comments on this page come straight out of the environmental lobbyist's book of claptrap. The environmentalists have fed you so many doom and gloom stories over the years that you now actually believe in them. Why don't you wake up and face the fact that not everything an environmental group says is true! To all you guys in the USA, not all of us Europeans are against you.
Scott, UK

There is also no solid evidence that God exists, however we still have billions of people on this planet who will argue his existence on much less evidence

Jason Patzlaff, Groningen, Netherlands
"There is no solid evidence that global warming is a result of our carelessness and ignorance...." and many comments similar to this are very disheartening. There is also no solid evidence that God exists, however we still have billions of people on this planet who will argue his existence on much less evidence. If only we could mix religion and stewardship of our planet together...
Jason Patzlaff, Groningen, Netherlands

Are we doing enough to counter "global warming"? I think we are being very arrogant to believe that we can defy or amend the way the earth evolves and changes. We are simply a flash, a very small and irrelevant part of the earth's history. We should aim to counter or solve problems that can be tackled by human beings, no use wasting our time speculating what the earth will be like and how we are going to help the mighty earth survive!!
Labib, Jerusalem, Palestine

The polar caps on Mars are also shrinking. It's the sun changing. The evidence that Mankind is "to blame" for natural climate change is circumstantial, but the issue has been hijacked for political ends. Whatever we do will not be enough if the sun changes too much; but what we are doing does nothing but damage the economy.
Hmt, Cambridge

It's very sad to see that the most sensible of the living beings are doing the most insensible things. We as people never think of our environment, but when it comes to criticing somebody we yell our best. Kyoto was supposed to be a landmark for reducing the pollution levels in the air, but selfish interests prevailed over interests of living beings. The people (the developed countries) who have done most of the damage are not ready to take the responsibility to cleaning the mess. Still they are living on false hope like closing on Enron will help and other rubbish viewpoints. Developing & underdeveloped are not having resources to combat this problem. Technical solutions to the problem are futile unless we develop common feeling of belongingness to mother nature. Developed countries should first prove their commitment leaving aside their myopic thinking and set an example for others.
Aman Tandon, Mumbai, India

Most people can manage to care about the environment we all live in without feeling the need to abandon all modern conveniences

Sarah, Manchester, UK
Most people can manage to care about the environment we all live in without feeling the need to abandon all modern conveniences. The planet can cope with a lot as is proven by the fact that we are still here at all but what is worrying is the accelerated rate at which emissions, deforestation and pollution are now occurring due to increased demands because of a rapidly growing population. The idea of "everything in moderation" needs to be applied but people don't seem to think like that. This selfish attitude that it's always someone else's problem goes nowhere to helping to preserve this unique system which supports the only life forms that we are aware of. On the recurring point of cars being a problem, a point which was highlighted to me in the recent "fuel crisis" here in the UK, although people were so concerned by the possible lack of fuel most cars were still seen carrying just one passenger and, even worse, mums on the school run were just carrying one child. If parents cannot even be bothered to arrange a pool, which have been very popular with kids who have tried them out, then there is very little that can be expected from those who intend not to have children and therefore have no interest in what happens here after they have gone. We need to create an attitude where you are not punished or ridiculed for enjoying the modern world or for wanting to protect it. We are lucky, we need to remember that.
Sarah, Manchester, UK

Kyoto requires a small reduction in greenhouse gas emissions relative to 1990 emissions. The significance of this cannot be understated; it is stopping the increase in emissions, to move towards economic growth without increasing emissions. No country has yet ratified the protocol, however most European nations are in the process of doing so. The UK has begun to cut its emissions and is on course to ratify the treaty, and the intention of the UK government is to go beyond the requirements of Kyoto and cut emissions by 11 or 12%. It's something like that. The US on the other hand has decided that it has no intention of ever ratifying the treaty, because it will hurt its economy (oil and energy companies, and stop them from driving excessively big cars). Since Kyoto, the US has continued to increase its emissions, by about 10% I think. Mostly this was under Clinton, who at least could blame the Republican senate holding him back. Bush has no such excuse. The man is an Idiot.
Malcolm, UK

Who cares if a few million drown in the flood? The important thing is to keep chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Richard, Bedford, UK

Business. That's all that matters to people

Ben, London, UK
Business. That's all that matters to people. Until there is a financial reason for doing anything, I'm sad to say I don't think anything will be done about global warming or any other important environmental or social issues. Pity humans aren't particularly thoughtful.
Ben, London, UK

The question is far less if we are doing enough against global warming. It is all about the blindfolds behind which we humans live. We are taught that we have the right to kill those that threaten our happiness, slay the animals that act with their natural instincts and torture and poison our seas, fish, cows and most of all nature, for we are taught that we are the grander race, that we only know how to think and act rationally.
Julia, Geneva, Switzerland

Unfortunately these comments still show the splits between the US and the rest of the world when it comes to the environment. While it is true that the Kyoto agreement has not been ratified by many countries in Europe it is also true that many of them have already begun to implement the changes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. We already use more efficient cars and generally produce far less CO2 per individual than the US. However, this is beside the point, as I don't think that even the Europeans are doing enough. We need to develop public transport, put down car use and look for efficiency savings wherever we can.
Mark Davies, London, UK

Are we doing enough?? Are we doing anything?

As global warming is simply not happening, there is no need to discuss it

Alan Fisk, London, England
As global warming is simply not happening, there is no need to discuss it. There have been no changes in climate that do not fall within normal variation. The climate was much warmer in the early Middle Ages and in the Roman period. Presumably the cause was the exhaust fumes from all those chariots!
Alan Fisk, London, England

Yiannis, Athens, Greece puts forth a good example. I would like to suggest another: People come in a room and find a dead man, mangled and half chewed. One of them says 'This looks suspiciously like the other cases of dead people we have seen over 14 years, only this time there is a tiger in the room licking himself in contempt.' That means the tiger is to blame, but wait a minute, the tiger has only been around a year. When this has been occurring for years without tigers around, why should I believe it is the tigers fault this time? Global warming and global cooling are cycles that have been going on for billions of years. When it occurred before man put all those pollutants in the air, water and land (which I strongly agree is not good), when it occurred before man even existed, why should I believe that is the cause of global warming this time?
John Alkire, UK/USA

Comments like "We can't really be sure", "there is not enough data", "It's just an issue of politics" really make me mad. Is the planet getting warmer? Yes. Is the evidence of this overwhelming? Yes. Are we emitting huge amounts of warming agents into the atmosphere? Yes. Is there a hole in the ozone layer? Yes. For goodness sake, what is the conclusion? This whole debate is like the following situation: People come in a room, and find a dead man, mangled and half chewed. Next to him there is a tiger, licking himself in contempt. People start wondering. "What might have killed him?" "Hmmm, he was probably struck by an asteroid" "You think so? No, I think he committed suicide". "No, that can't be, I think somebody electrocuted him". Then somebody suggests, "Um, maybe the tiger killed him?" Then all the others answer in outrage "The Tiger? How can that be? Just by the fact that he is mangled and chewed? And which tiger, anyway? I don't see a tiger anywhere!"
Yiannis, Athens, Greece

If the ice continues to melt the danger is it will slow down the Atlantic conveyor belt. If this happens then we are in for a major climate change. We are on the same latitude as northern Canada. But we have the belt to keep the UK warmer. In the past it has stopped. I think it's all too late as the wheels are already in motion.
Andy Helgesen, Lincoln UK

We are only just beginning to understand just how complex our climate system is. In the past small, natural fluctuations have given rise to massive climate changes. The worrying thing is, is that the actions of mankind are effecting the climate, and we still have no idea how close, or indeed far away, we are from causing a cataclysmic breakdown of our atmospheric system. Until we know, we must be cautious and try and reduce the effect we are having.
Nick, Sweden (English)

The scientific debate about global warming is legitimate, but much of the policy debate about what to do once the phenomenon is proven is pointless

Brendan, Glendora, USA
The scientific debate about global warming is legitimate, but much of the policy debate about what to do once the phenomenon is proven is pointless. Opponents of CO2 regulation claim it violates the free market, whereas proponents say the free market is inadequate for our survival. Common sense: Since when does the free market entitle a BMW owner in Los Angeles to cause pollution that melts the glaciers in the Swiss Alps with impunity? Capitalism has laws to protect us from harm to our property or health as the result of pollution. CO2 was once benign, but if it has reached a threshold in our atmosphere where it triggers climate change, it has now become a pollutant. We cannot pollute with impunity, so we'll have to develop alternative technologies in a free market context. Put the lawyers to work, they've been asleep on this one!
Brendan, Glendora, USA

What else can be done that isn't already? It may only be sci-fi, but if there was a way to make ozone and replenish the layer, maybe that would help.
Rick, UK

Maybe not in your backyard, but in our backyards the signs of global warming are already visible. We have to built our dikes higher and higher.
Marcel, Arnhem, The Netherlands

We know that we are destroying our environment; why are we wasting time arguing about the signs and symptoms (e.g. global warming). We can each make a difference in our own lifestyle to improve things for everyone, in the same way that our choice of lifestyle is creating the problems.
Don Ferguson, Montreal, Canada

Graeme Wallace continues the myth that these ice shelves do not add to sea levels since they are already in the water. The fact is that they are linked to the landmass, and hence they fall downwards when they break off.
Mark, Cardiff, EU

Climate changes have been taking place at varying speeds since long before humans arrived. To imagine we can modify the shift we are observing at the moment is an extremely arrogant and conceited idea. So what if things change? Since when did humanity have any "special privileges" to have an environment to suit them alone? Life will roll on with or without humanity. As far as ice-melt is concerned, only the ice on land will have any impact on sea levels. All sea ice already displaces its own mass and break-up of this ice shelf recently has no impact on sea levels.
Graeme Wallace, Aberdeen, Scotland

I fear for the future of this planet, not because of the obvious damage that we as humans do. My fear lies in the fact that we all know exactly what's going on, yet multi-national corporations have free reign to continue their pollution and devastation of lands which do not belong to them. Until we remove our reliance on such industries, we are doomed. Who can actually stop the forest destruction, chemical pollution, and excessive consuming practised by such a small percentage of the global population? I wish I could.
Stuart Mihulka, Melbourne Australia

Whenever an electrical appliance is switched on there is an effect to the earth's magnetic field

M Thomson, UK
We are being told about the effects to global warming by the overuse of fossil fuels and the emissions of certain industrial waste to atmosphere. While these contribute to the overall effect of global warming, why are there no questions regarding the overuse of electricity, which is by far the main cause of global warming? Whenever an electrical appliance is switched on there is an effect to the earth's magnetic field. We can seen this happening on our TVs which pick up a signal whenever the fridge's thermostat starts the cooling process, even when we use a hairdryer, on the car engine starts etc. etc. Although we understand how to use electricity, we do not know what it is.
M Thomson, UK

There is still a great deal of uncertainty concerning global warming. No-one really knows whether or not human activity is responsible for current situation or not. However, it is possible for countries throughout the world to do a lot more than they are doing at the moment. The use of fossil fuels could be ended tomorrow if we really wanted to. Unfortunately, that will not happen for many years yet. The main reason why we will not stop using fossil fuels is because almost all of the world's economies are based on oil and gas production and their by-products. To stop production overnight would cause tremendous poverty throughout the world including in Europe. Also, to replace oil or gas fired power stations with wind or wave-generating machines would incur an extremely high cost to the taxpayer. Realistically, I don't think this will happen for many years yet.
Philip Tunnell, Muscat, Oman

We are teetering to the brink of our demise. It is obvious that as a people we are not doing enough. The internal combustion engine is probably the worst technological breakthrough of our time. As long as nature is perceived as material and without divine will, we will continue to plunder its resources without any regard to the ensuing consequences. Since America is the greatest polluter of the planet (25% of world pollution for a 5% world population) the brunt of the blame should rest on its shoulders. Unfortunately, America is intensifying its crusade to squeeze the last drops of our planet's milk.
Abdelali, Los Angeles USA

Former director of Greenpeace Jeremy Leggett:
"The planet is an unprecedented rate"
Jeremy Leggett and Dr Martin Keeley in Colombia
discuss whether global warming is a manmade phenomenon
Aman Tandon of India:
"There is a chance that nature will collapse"
Dr David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey:
"Some other ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula are threatened"
Matthew Lewis in Canada:
"This winter was the coldest in 140 years"
Paul Neville of the USA:
"We have done too much about global warming"
BBC science correspondent Christine McGourty reports from Antarctica

Are we doing enough to combat global warming?



266 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

19 Mar 02 | Sci/Tech
Antarctic ice shelf breaks apart
06 Sep 01 | Sci/Tech
Rapid Antarctic warming puzzle
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