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World History Since 1500

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HIST 105- World History Since 1500

Introduction

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     There is an old adage which maintains that all politics are local, and that is certainly true in many respects.  Given the advances in communications and media,  science and technology in recent decades could also fairly put forth the assertion that all politics are global and as will soon be seen, some politics are environmental.

     It is the environmental element of politics, and its overlap with history that form the basis of this research, which will use newspaper articles and additional sources to present and prove the assertion that one of the most controversial historic/environmental issues of recent times, global warming, does have some basis in fact, but the ability of politics to influence public and media perception of  events can sometimes skew the facts.

Just the Facts, Please

     To begin, it is important to take a survey of relevant literature in an attempt to try to establish at least some basic facts about the topic of global warming, which will make it possible from that point to show some actual examples of how the facts are manipulated by media sources depending upon the agenda of that media outlet, the intentions/goals of the authors of the individual news articles, and perhaps the overwhelming desire of the media to appeal more to popular culture in many cases than what one would think would be the obligation of legitimate media to simply report what is happening, or more succinctly, what can in fact be verified through the checking of fact.

     Strictly speaking, when one speaks of  global warming in its most literal sense, which is to say the rising of ground and ocean temperatures, a review of a source beyond newspaper accounts sets the stage for this research and gives credence to the original thesis with which the research began.

     First, a quote which seems to settle the issue of global warming once and for all and give a victory to the environmentalists in the world community:

“The first (and sometimes last) stop in  global-warming  is the question, Is it real? The answer seems to be yes. Ground-based and oceanic temperature records show warming of about three-quarters of a degree Celsius in the last century”[1].

Now, the next sentence from the same article sets the debate back into play by showing that the cause of global warming may not be what many in media and politics are claiming:

“About half of that warming, however, occurred before World War II and is widely thought to be related to solar activity. Satellite and weather-balloon records, which do not go back as far, show less warming in the late 20th century than the land-based stations”[2].

The ability to use part of a piece of information to skew the facts, not only on global warming but on other topics as well  is now revealed.  Next, the intertwining of media and politics in the global warming debate will be discussed.

Global Warming-Hot or Cold?

     This topic is particularly fascinating for its unique blend of history, science, politics and the media.  Historically speaking, it is virtually impossible to argue with facts that can be verified.  Take, for instance, the following data that does in fact make a compelling argument that global warming does exist:

“1998 was the warmest year in modern record, due to a huge El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean, and that it is unfair to start any analysis at a high (or a low) point in a longer history”[3].

What is seen in the presentation of the above quote, as a matter of historic fact, is compelling: there is a definite date of the occurrence, an attributing cause to the event, and the assertion that this finding is essentially undebatable. It is data like this which has added substance to the political angle of the global warming controversy.  Politicians have used the recorded history of these events to create a political firestorm, and some allege that the issue has been used to advance the careers of professional politicians, much like wars and other national crises have done throughout recorded history.  A perfect example of this is the writing of Senator and presidential aspirant John Kerry of Massachusetts.  In a recent newspaper article, he and his wife, Teresa Kerry, wrote the following:

“For too long, we have allowed our national dialogue on this looming crisis to be distorted by a small group of industry-funded naysayers. They have stalled as evidence mounted along with worldwide temperatures — which are up 1.4 degrees in this new millennium alone”[4].

Kerry’s assertions have been backed up by very credible international organizations like the United Nations, which has likewise called for an international dialogue for a solution to global warming, making the claim in a recent report released internationally that:

“melting ice sheets that could lead to a rapid rise in sea levels and the extinction of large numbers of species brought about by even moderate amounts of warming, on the order of 1 to 3 degrees”[5].

     It would seem that there are as many who would debunk global warming, taking into account that the deflating of global warming for these individuals may also be driven by outside agendas or goals.  Nonetheless, an examination of media accounts against global warming, issued in the same time period as those which claim that global warming is fact, speaks volumes for the “other side”, as it were.  Take this telling passage from an American newspaper, for example:

“The North Atlantic is now forecast to be in a cold stage for a decade, which will help put the damper on global warming.  Another Pacific temperature pattern is forecast not to push warming, either.  Science no longer provides justification for any rush to pass drastic global warming legislation”[6]

Opponents of global warming have likewise enlisted their own experts to make the argument that global warming is akin to some sort of a fairy tale at best:

“University of Oklahoma geophysicist David Deming, a specialist in temperature and heat flow, notes in the Washington Times that “unexpected bitter cold swept the entire Southern Hemisphere in 2007.” Johannesburg experienced its first significant snowfall in a quarter-century. Australia had its coldest ever June. New Zealand’s vineyards lost much of their 2007 harvest when spring temperatures dropped to record lows”[7].

While far from being the definitive depiction of the global warming debate that is not the purpose of this research.  Rather, as the research continues, the thesis that history can be impacted, even in light of what would seem to be solid facts, by opinion, ambition and debate.

Bottom Line- What is the Truth?

     In conclusion, the question of what is the true history remains, and in many ways, the question is in fact the answer, and likewise speaks volumes about how historic accounts have likely been shaped over the centuries.  As has been seen, a review of writings on any historic topic can find as many arguments for one viewpoint as for another, which makes a point which must be understood.  History should not be viewed narrowly, nor should only one side of an issue be taken as the truth.  Rather, it is for the student of history to process varied viewpoints and form in their own minds informed decisions about the events that shape the course of human events.  Without the ability to do so, the discipline of history would be reduced to nothing more than the loudest voice being heard which would, in the end result, serve no one.  History, and indeed the people who make it, deserve much more than that.

Works Cited

Jacoby, Jeff (2008, January 6). Br-r-r! Where did global warming go? Boston Globe Newspaper. Retrieved from Boston Globe Online: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/01/06/br_r_r_where_did_global_warming_go/

Kerry, John & Kerry Teresa (2007, April 3). Too Much Hot Air on Global Warming. Seattle Times Newspaper, retrieved December 7, 2008 from the World Wide Web: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2003647874_kerry03.html

Michaels, Patrick J. (2008, May 16). Global Warming Myth. Washington Times Online Archive: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/may/16/global-warming-myth/

Rosenthal, Elisabeth (2007, November 17). U.N. Report Describes Risks of Inaction on Climate Change. New York Times Newspaper, A5.

Taylor, Jerry. 2005. Hot Enough for You? the State of the Global-Warming Debate, and Politicking. National Review, July 18, 20.

[1] Taylor, Jerry. 2005. Hot Enough for You? the State of the Global-Warming Debate, and Politicking. National Review, July 18, 20.

[2] Taylor, Jerry. 2005. Hot Enough for You? the State of the Global-Warming Debate, and Politicking. National Review, July 18, 20.
[3] Michaels, Patrick J. (2008, May 16). Global Warming Myth. Washington Times Online Archive: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/may/16/global-warming-myth/

[4] Kerry, John & Kerry Teresa (2007, April 3). Too Much Hot Air on Global Warming. Seattle Times Newspaper, retrieved December 7, 2008 from the World Wide Web: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2003647874_kerry03.html
[5] Rosenthal, Elisabeth (2007, November 17). U.N. Report Describes Risks of Inaction on Climate Change. New York Times Newspaper, A5.

[6] Michaels, Patrick J. (2008, May 16). Global Warming Myth. Washington Times Online Archive: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/may/16/global-warming-myth/
[7] Jacoby, Jeff (2008, January 6). Br-r-r! Where did global warming go? Boston Globe Newspaper. Retrieved from Boston Globe Online: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/01/06/br_r_r_where_did_global_warming_go/

 

Cite this World History Since 1500

World History Since 1500. (2016, Oct 06). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/world-history-since-1500/

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