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Environmental Regulations and Global Warming

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When the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize went to former Vice President Al Gore and an international scientific body that warned of serious consequences if Earth's temperatures continue to rise, the award underscored the international concern about the Earth's changing climate. Most scientists agree that global warming is a serious threat, and that human beings contribute to it by burning carbon-containing fuels such as oil and coal; and the international community has moved to limit carbon emissions. However, some scientists dispute the link between greenhouse gases and global warming. Many prominent Americans, including members of Congress, object to putting limits on carbon emissions, arguing that the evidence of warming is still uncertain and cutting emissions would cripple the economy while doing little to curb global warming. "Environmental Regulations and Global Warming" discusses the debate about whether and how our government should act to protect the Earth's climate.

The Point/Counterpoint series offers the reader a greater understanding of some of the most controversial issues in contemporary American society—issues such as capital punishment, immigration, gay rights, and gun control. We have looked for the most contemporary issues and have included topics—such as the controversies surrounding “blogging”—that we could not have imagined when the series began.

In each volume, the author has selected an issue of particular importance and set out some of the key arguments on both sides of the issue. Why study both sides of the debate? Maybe you have yet to make up your mind on an issue, and the arguments presented in the book will help you to form an opinion. More likely, however, you will already have an opinion on many of the issues covered by the series. There is always the chance that you will change your opinion after reading the arguments for the other side. But even if you are firmly committed to an issue—for example, school prayer or animal rights—reading both sides of the argument will help you to become a more effective advocate for your cause. By gaining an understanding of opposing arguments, you can develop answers to those arguments.

Perhaps more importantly, listening to the other side sometimes helps you see your opponent’s arguments in a more human way. For example, Sister Helen Prejean, one of the nation’s most visible opponents of capital punishment, has been deeply affected by her interactions with the families of murder victims. By seeing the families’ grief and pain, she understands much better why people support the death penalty, and she is able to carry out her advocacy with a greater sensitivity to the needs and beliefs of death penalty supporters.

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