CO2 and many other gases (water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone) are green house gas is a scientifically established fact. The major contribution of the green house effect is [source]
* water vapor, which contributes 36–72%
* carbon dioxide, which contributes 9–26%
* methane, which contributes 4–9%
* ozone, which contributes 3–7%
Without the green house gases, the earth' surface would be too cold for our comfort, but too much would be bad as well.
CO2, yes, is what plants use during photosynthesis to produce its organic matter. Higher concentration of CO2 can help plant growth. The Earth has experienced higher CO2 concentrations before. But since then, many species have evolved to live in the current climate pattern. In the last 150 years, human has increased the atmospheric CO2 by about 35%. Currently human CO2 emission is about 130 times greater than the quantity emitted by volcanoes. [source]
The major problems of global warming are the disruption of the climate pattern and sea level rises.
The current cold spell in UK is a direct consequence of the stopping of the Gulf stream which when operating keeps Ireland and the western coast of UK a couple of degrees warmer. The stopping of the Gulf stream is attributed to global warming. The great freeze in Europe and USA is also an indication of the changing climate pattern. While in the north, you are experiencing record cold, downunder is experience record heat. Last night (Melbourne - not the Melbourne in Florida) is equal to the record's hottest January night in Melbourne. Yesterday, we have 44oC (111.2oF)and today we shall have 40oC (104oF) before a cool change around noon. Think about it, 40oC before noon! In 2007, ScienceDaily reported that 11 warmest years on record were in the last 13 years. Since then, 2008, 2009 also join the hottest years record list!
Here is a site which provides you some visualisation of the impact of sealevel rises to USA cities. Of course many low lying countries will be totally submerged and creating huge refugee for developed countries! When these people become desperate, don't think it is only their problem. The world is now well connected!
The carbon trade and cap is an economic mean to try to shift the use of fossil fuel to renewable energy. By itself, I think it is a big scum for rich people to continue their environmentally damaging live-style by "paying" someone else to compensate for the damages they have made. Practically, I think it will work only if developed countries have the honour to take up the responsibility they have caused and work co-operative with the rest of the world.
By adding a carbon tax to the polluting industries, the price of fossil fuel will increase and hence creating an incentive to use renewable energy. Once the initial cost of development and installation of renewable energy are in place, the running cost of the renewable energy will out-perform fossil energy sources. The carbon trade and cap system can focus on the removal of the current accumulated carbon in the atmosphere. However, we don't have much time left before we pass the point of no return - when the run-away green house emission is faster than human's own emission. The most worrisome is methane gases trapped by the permafrost. Once the permafrost started to melt, we are all screwed. The collected tax can be used to subsidise users, invest in renewable energy research and development.
As Prester John puts it in the comment to Comfort's post:
What are the goals of those concerned about climate change?
-More efficient energy usage
-Conservation of natural resources
-Protection of indigenous species
-Awareness of our impact upon the environment
Does anyone actually find any of these things undesirable? Or are you concerned that this is all a hoax and we risk making the world a better place for nothing?
The scientific illiteracy is astonishing in USA and it seems it is particularly linked to the religious. Is it because the religious worships blind faith and has lost the human thinking ability?