Political History of Global Warming
There is a lot of ambiguity surrounding the theory of 'global warming' and the proper political response to it. At the very center of the scientific debate on the variability of global climate is to what extent human activities influence climate change. Another unforeseeable is whether the potential impacts of climate change will be harmful or beneficial for humans, managed agriculture, and natural ecosystems. Some question the authority with which current scientific data has been given in international negotiations on the regulation of greenhouse gases. Others are convinced that immediate actions must be taken to limit the potential effects of excess greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial era.
It would be difficult to credit a single event that encouraged the U.S. Government to begin a major program to investigate global climate change; instead it would best be explained as a long series of events, mostly in response to the international attention given it. The idea that excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could trap heat in Earth's atmosphere was first put forward in 1898 by Swedish physicist Svante Arrhenius. But it wasn't until the late 50s that scientists within U.S. federal agencies started to participate in scientific workshops, international conferences, and international scientific research that explored the nature of Earth?s climate system and the role of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases believed to modify it. In 1965 the President?s Science Advisory Committee issued a report, Restoring the Quality of Our Environment, that identified climate change and CO2 buildup as deserving expanded monitoring and study.
The National Climate Program Act (NCPA) of 1978 marked a major milestone in establishing federal interest in global climate change policy. It signaled the beginning of a new national policy, a diplomatic role in international actions on potential global climate change, and expanded scientific research on these issues.
The first major international studies on global climate change requested were performed by the United Nations. Their first study, which addressed potential global policy considerations, was released for public review and adopted by the U.N. Secretary General at the First World Climate Conference (FWCC) in 1979. For about 10 years after FWCC, ?the science? of global climate change was further studied by the U.N. in order to formulate an international position on how best to approach the issue.
In November 1988, at the request of U.N. members involved in climate change research, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was created. To help assist U.S. involvement with the IPCC, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (GCRP) was established in 1989. In 1990, the IPCC completed the first of a series of recurring international scientific and policy assessments of global climate change. According...