A good friend with whom I've recently become reaquainted asked me if I would be so kind as to outline how it is I've come to believe what I believe about global warming. His view differs from mine, but he seems sincere in wanting to know how I've come to think what I do.
Per his requeset the following is not a defense of my position, nor an attempt to somehow prove its correctness. It is simply a connect-the-dots as to how I got from no opinion to the one I currently hold. It is also the least I can do, having inadvertantly started a fairly lengthy and occasionally vicious flame war on his own page regarding the topic of global warming.
The three basic talking points follow, combined with some elucidation on each.
1) I observed.
Atmospheric CO2 levels are higher than ever before in human history. The earth's temperature is rising rapidly. Man is pumping lots of CO2 into the air.
2) I pondered.
The possibility that rapidly increasing introduction of man-made CO2 to the atmosphere simply coincides with a far vaster, longer, naturally occuring cycle has to at least be acknowledged. It could be the case. But given the relative timelines involved -- the past 100 or so years vs. timelines of planetary proportions (this ball has been around for a long time!) it seems LESS likely that the two would just magically coincide and MORE likely that there's some causal link.
3) I applied my own experience.
Even if there COULD be other contributing factors, there's no way around the fact that man's current behavior is bad for the planet. It's like the smoking lobby scientists who would with all sincerity and gravity ennumerate any and all of the possible other environmental or heriditary causes for patient x, y, or z's death from lung cancer, as if doing so would somehow make cigarette smoke non-carcinogenic and the deceased's consumption of three packs a day a non-factor.
In this case we have the hydrocarbon and automative industries and all of those that feed into them fighting tooth and nail to point out all the other possible causes as if they will somehow stop man's contribution to global warming from being harmful.
Where things really get pretzel-shaped, however, is when one ponders that the same solutions to man's contribution to global warming are the keys to attaining our desire for energy independence: a more efficient, and ultimately diminshed, consumption of hydrocarbons as part of our energy base.
What straightens the pretzel? The same potentially harmed parties protesting from the other side of the fence.
But that's probably just a coincidence as well.
[Disclosure: In addition to the above, it should be known that I grew up in a household absolutely bent on preserving the earth. We were recycling, adjusting our thermostats, eating naturally (often home) grown and prepared foods, and defending wildlife way before most. You don't litter because it's bad for the planet. You don't use electricity you don't have to. Not because it costs money, but because it depletes our resources and its generation pollutes the environment. You recycle so you can extend our resource base (and not fill up the planet with junk). And on, and on, and on.]
[Even fuller disclosure: I have no doubt that if I have disappointed my parents in any way, it is in my general failure to continue practicing these acts in any meaningful way now that I'm an economic entity of my own.]