That is the question raised by skeptics of the subject. Global warming is all myth for them.
Every subject has two sides, the pro and the con. There are believers of both sides depending on how they perceive a particular subject or how they understand it.
Scientists have a leading role to play to make the people understand the subject "Is global warming real?" correctly and unambiguously.
But do they do that? Not necessarily.
Global warming deals with temperature, weather, climate change and several other related terms. All these parameters are measurable and not something like human emotion, which cannot be measured.
Hence common people would like understandable measurements for all the global warming related parameters to which they can relate easily.
The scientists present them in terms of:
Predicting temperature rise of anywhere from 1 deg to 4 deg Celsius over the next 100 years,
Non-seasonal droughts and floods in several countries,
Melting of polar ice caps,
Rising of sea level by several centimeters,
earth temperature rising faster than in the past centuries and so on.
The doubt "Is global warming real?" arises since
common people are not able to relate to such information readily.
It is possible if the parameters involved are such that people can feel them or sense them immediately, in their own environments...
...now, not some 100 years away from now.
Have a look at this sentence from one of IPCC’s reports:
“By 2100, temperatures are expected to increase between 2.5 degrees and 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit above those of 1990”.
By the year 2100 most of us will not be alive and hence the above sentence will not create a real serious alarm in most of us.
As simple as that!
After all the basic human psychology is to worry about the here and now and not about something that may take place in a few years' time, for the simple reason that their thinking goes something like this "I will cross the bridge when I reach it".
If the people were really worried about their future all the time, they will be most cautious about securing their future at least economically. Even in this most basic aspect of human behavior, many people do not exhibit due diligence.
That being the case, warnings about global warming by the year 2100 will not produce the required reaction from the people. Instead they are more likely to take the opposite stance "is global warming real?".
This behavior of the common people was very clearly evident in a survey conducted in the US in 2003 where they replied to questions on "Is global warming real?" by saying that they were aware that global warming was real, but it was not a priority concern for them right now.
Americans rank global warming as a low priority compared to other national issues such as the health care and education, and environmental issues such as air and water pollution. They also felt that since global warming was a problem to be faced in distant future they need not worry about it now.
For producing computer models, the scientists rely upon some or all of the following inputs:
History of global warming,
Global warming statistics,
Global warming cause and effect,
Global warming charts
Based on the statistical figures for the past many years, computer models are prepared and the predictions are projected for the future. But such computer models should be able to satisfy the readings taken in any of the past few decades, otherwise such models will not convince the skeptics of global warming.
But such models do not produce the results which match the readings taken in the past decades accurately every time.
Common people may not be the experts in all the fields but they are aware of how the past predictions by even the most knowledgeable scientists did not pass the test of time in respect of several present day technological products.
Let us look at some of the bloomers:
“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible”.
Thus predicted Lord Kelvin, British mathematician and physicist, president of the British Royal Society, in 1895.
He also said “Radio has no future”.
Were he alive today, what would have been his reaction for the proving flights by Airbus's huge new plane A380 in its recent flights to the US and the far east carrying upto 550 people on board? The plane weighs several tons and so heavy.
The same logic goes for his prediction about the popularity of the radio.
Many of the other predictions include the doubts expressed about television, telephone, electric bulb and practically every modern gadget or new technological development taking place in the past decades and how the scientific community itself was skeptical about their future success.
People are also aware of new technologies that had come about in the recent past, which the scientists could not even think about at those times, let alone predict about them, such as microcomputers, mobile phones, genetically modified seeds etc.
So does it mean that :
The scientists cannot categorically reply to the question "Is global warming real" with convincing scientific facts?
That we need not take their warnings seriously?
Not at all.
It only means that they carry out all their research with the available technologies today.
Even with the best of equipments available today no human being can predict with any degree of certainty what is going to happen in a few years or a few decades from now.
The only thing that we can be sure of is that the future will be different from what it is today.
Some of the other reasons for the peoples' lack of conviction so that the question "Is global warming real?" arises in their minds often is that they have a doubt...
...that there is scare mongering lobby out there to extract huge commercial benefits for big business corporations and research labs.
They can survive only by creating such scares from time to time depending on the topic of the day. The present topic happens to be global warming some skeptics feel.
So there is a talk about Consensus among the scientific community, by which most of them are agreed to give periodic warnings to the public about the impending doom due to global warming.
Common people are also vaguely aware that the few scientists who may raise a red flag against such "Consensus" scientists will be immediately branded as a lunatic group or are not to be taken seriously etc and so they feel that many scientists who may not be convinced about the question "Is global warming real?" may take a safer option and may prefer to keep quiet.
So the question again comes to "Is Global Warming Real?"
The answer is definitely "Yes, global warming is real", but the only thing that the common people should do is keep a balanced outlook and not subscribe to hype from whichever quarter it may come from whether it is from: