No consensus on solving global warming
Disagreement on extent of problem, too
October 6, 1997
Web posted at: 12:02 p.m. EDT (1602 GMT)
(CNN) -- Solving the global warming problem will take money so it's no surprise that the most vocal opponents of drastic action are the very industries that would bear the biggest financial burden -- factories, utilities and other businesses that release large amounts of so-called "greenhouse" gases into the atmosphere.
Those gases, combined with solar radiation, act like a greenhouse to trap the planet's heat.
Carbon dioxide, from burning fossil fuels such as gasoline, is the primary greenhouse gas, Other culprits are methane and hydroflourocarbons, or HFCs.
As a result, notes Gail McDonald of the Global Climate Coalition, any solution will have an economic impact felt by individuals as well as businesses.
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Estimates of the impact of shifting away from oil and coal energy sources vary widely. Some computer models predict severe dislocations in industries that use a lot of energy, the loss of 1.5 million jobs and a 2 percent economic decline because of increased energy costs.
Other studies, including one by the Energy Department, say economic costs could be contained by heavy investment in new technologies for energy efficiency and a pollution permit trading system.
Some costs, these studies suggest, would be offset by environmental benefits.
Global warming skeptics
In addition to economic opposition, there are also skeptics
-- including some climate scientists -- who doubt global warming exists at all.
They contend computer models forecasting the scope of the problem are unreliable and other factors could mitigate warming, such as clouds and oceans.
Still, most scientists acknowledge the Earth is heating up and that people are partly to blame.
The more common disagreements are how much hotter it is likely to get. And how fast.
That, says McDonald, leaves industry groups urging a limited approach to the problem until science understands it better.
But environmentalists and others -- including many in the Clinton administration -- say industry's call for more research sounds like a familiar delaying tactic.
"They did it to (delay) getting lead out of gasoline. They were against controlling freon -- the chemicals destroying the ozone layer. Now, they're moving out again in opposition to sensible steps to do something about global warming," says Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.
Babbitt and others pushing for prompt action on global warming say waiting is a luxury the Earth doesn't have.
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