Review It

Now review and compare the claim, counterclaim, evidence and reasoning from the ProConopens in new window excerpt and the excerpt from the Newsela articleopens in new window.

ProCon: Climate Change Debate
Claim Evidence Reasoning

There is no scientific proof that humans are responsible for the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere.

  • “When modern life evolved over 500 million years ago, CO2 was more than 10 times higher than today, yet life flourished at this time.”
  • “Then an Ice Age occurred 450 million years ago when CO2 was 10 times higher than today.”
  • “There is some correlation, but little evidence, to support a direct causal relationship between CO2 and global temperature through the millennia.”

Because we experienced higher temperatures and an ice age 450 million years ago when CO2 emissions were 10 times higher than today, there is proof that human impact on CO2 levels may not be the main cause of global warming.

Newsela article: “Climate change confirmed? Last year called the warmest on record”
Counterclaim Evidence Reasoning

The climate scientists said that this warming trend — temperatures going up over a long period of time — could only be explained if you looked at human activity.

  • They blamed burning fossil fuels.
  • Burning fossil fuels, such as coal, release greenhouse gases into the Earth’s atmosphere. These greenhouse gases help to trap in heat.

The rise in greenhouse gas emissions, as a result of human activity, is responsible for the trend in rising temperatures, and we can expect more record highs as more greenhouse gasses are being released.

Remember that part of writing a good argument is considering the strengths and limitations of both sides of the argument. For example, one could argue that the claim from the ProCon excerpt is supported by theoretical evidence only, because we have no concrete records of CO2 levels and Earth’s temperature at that time. Additionally, the rise in temperatures millions of years ago could have been caused by other factors as well.

On the other hand, the counterclaim holds that humans burning fossil fuels contributes to rising temperatures, and 9 of the 10 warmest years ever recorded occurred since 2002. One could argue that if greenhouse gas emissions are continuing to rise due to human activity, the author has not accounted for the one year since 2002 where temperatures were not at an all-time high, even though there was likely not a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Use the information from the tables above and any additional evidence and reasoning from the excerpts to evaluate the strengths and limitations of both arguments. You will use this information to develop your argument on the following page.