Archive for the ‘Global Warming’ Category

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Yes Virginia, Global Warming Can Mean Lower Temperatures

February 16, 2014

Snow DayI’ve notice something recently, when I make a comment about all the snow or how cold a day might be on social media, a comment akin to “so much for global warming” always seems to creep in.  I have to shake my head and wonder about the education level of people making such comments.  It is one thing to make a smart-ass comment for effect; I do it all the time.  It is another matter entirely to drink the disinformation of news networks and apply it to serious issues like global warming.

In a very large part, the confusion of us lay-people is due to the moniker, “global warming.”  It is all too easy to miss-apply it and miss the real point is energy trapped in the upper troposphere and tropopause, not the relative high or low temperature of a particular day. 

For those who have forgotten middle-school earth science, the troposphere is the atmospheric layer we live in.  It extends from the earth’s surface up to about 10 miles or so.  The tropopause is the dense boundary between troposphere and the stratosphere.  These parts of the atmosphere are where the weather happens. We all know as you go higher, it gets colder, but that is only to a point.  Once you reach the tropopause, the temperature stabilizes; it then increases through the stratosphere before it again drops.  It is not uncommon for temperatures in this region to reach as low as -75°C (-103°F).

Just for the sake of clarity, the layers of our atmosphere, in order away from the earth, are the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere.  The ozone layer lives within the lower stratosphere but is not considered a true atmospheric layer.  Commercial jetliners like to fly in the lower stratosphere too, as it puts them above thunderstorms, clouds and such.

The term global warming, applies less to the temperature at the earth’s surface and more to the energy stored in the upper troposphere and tropopause.  A 1°C change in the average temperature in this area has a huge impact of the weather at the earth’s surface.  This is because the energy required to change the average is tremendous.  Notice I did not say it has a huge impact on the temperature at the earth’s surface.  The change affects the weather in the form of high and low pressure systems and ultimately the jet stream. The temperature will fluctuate up down, for sure, but it is the increase storms and their severity we will most readily endure by warming. 

This is why a warming in the upper troposphere and tropopause can result in lower temperatures and cause a great amount of snow.  In reality, it supports the theory of global warming.  So, keep this little tidbit in mind next time you hear someone make a silly comment about cold weather disproving global warming.  Simply shake your head and realize the person making such a comment does not know what the hell they are talking about when it comes to global warming.

 

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The Stewardship of Footprints

February 22, 2010

A recent blog (click here to read) touched on the need for good stewardship of the earth; after all, it is our home.  With the juggernaut of the global warming movement these days, the basic need to act responsibly seems to take a back seat in areas outside of the generation of greenhouse gasses.  It would not be at all surprising if the ultimate global warming solution ends up polluting the world in some other form.

It’s not that addressing global warming is a bad thing, to the contrary.  What is wrong is to see CO2, and other naturally occurring gases, as a pollutant.  What we are concerned with is the balance of CO2, and these other gases, in the environment.  Statements regarding a person’s carbon footprint are commonplace today.  Thinking only about greenhouse gases, with regard to a footprint, is incredibly shortsighted and results in our “kicking the can” of our real problem down the road; the real problem being pollution as a whole.  Only when naturally occurring compounds are out of balance with nature are they pollutants, thinking about a carbon footprint does not take into account the unnatural compounds we create, other than the energy to produce them.

While many misconceptions about global warming exists, none is more glaring than the value of CO2 in the atmosphere.  It is impossible to remove it all.  Besides, we need it there, to remove it would end life as we know it.  CO2 must be looked at like a river’s level.  It has a normal level, a low level, and a flood level.  The CO2 we add takes the atmosphere closer to the flood level, what we want is to keep it normal.  You would never drain a river of all its water, nor should we attempt to drain the atmosphere of the compounds that give it balance. CO2 and other natural gases are only pollutants when we saturate the environment with them.

Here is a question to think about, do we hurt the earth when we pollute?  In reality, no, we hurt ourselves; we hurt the other living creatures and the ability of the earth to support life.  If we pollute the planet to the point were life ends, the earth will recover in time and start over, just without us.  I am reminded of the Jon Cleary quote, “the oxen is slow, but the earth is patient.”

The effect of pollution does not matter as much today as it does tomorrow.  Polystyrene, the ubiquitous Styrofoam cup, is not biodegradable.  It will erode over time into smaller pieces but remains polystyrene.  Even if you cannot see it, it is there.  In other words, if Jesus Christ and the Twelve Apostles used Styrofoam cups and plates at the last supper, they would still be in a landfill today, maybe not as a cup but the polystyrene would still be there.  That is the designed characteristic of most plastics – they are not biodegradable and last indefinitely.  Therefore, they have no use to the planet with regard to life cycle.  In truth, they hurt the life cycle as animals ingest eroded plastics they cannot process as food.

Styrofoam is just one easy example of the endless pollutants we surround ourselves with, but what other options do we have?  We could go backwards, but there’s just not enough caves for all of us to live in.  No, our only true option is to move forward responsibly with good stewardship of the planet, in all regards.  This means to not squander resources, like water, recycle waste products to prevent them from remaining in nature (including excess natural compounds like CO2), and changing our thinking regarding the long-term viability of the products we bring into our lives.

There is no question that plastics, and the other chemical compounds, we develop have the ability to improve our particular situation.  One only needs to visit a neonatal ward in a hospital to understand plastics are a blessing.  We simply need to handle that blessing responsibly after it’s served its purpose.  If nature did not make it, let’s not leave it to her to deal with.  Nature keeps the world in balance, we change that balance.  It cannot be helped but that does not mean we have carte blanche on the matter.  We have to act responsibly regarding our impact on the world.  It is in our own best interest to do so.

It is time to stop thinking about today and put tomorrow first.  Rather than thinking about “carbon”, we need to expand out thinking to our overall footprint.  Teddy Roosevelt said to “speak softly and carry a big stick,” its time we learn to walk that way, and reduce humanity’s footprint, no matter how big a stick we carry.

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One Cold Day And They Want You To Drink The Kool-Aid

February 14, 2010

Recent points made by doubters of global warming show just how out of touch they truly are.  At best, they are out of touch, more likely they are simply cherry picking situations to suit their own point of view.  In other words, they are deliberately trying to mislead.  With the winter storms that hit most of the nation in the last two weeks, it is an easy segue to make; the problem is it is not a factual and has nothing to do with the issues that drive global warming.

For the most part, global warming deniers count on a lack of understanding by the general population of global warming as a phenomenon.  While, as the name implies, during global warming the world sees an increase in average temperature, it is by no means the only trait of it.  Nor is a rise in temperature the most devastating effect, the shift in worldwide weather patterns will drastically change life on a planetary scale.  The name has created much of the confusion; while temperature increase does have a role, it does not mean all the earth will have weather like Miami Beach.

I think the real hang-up people has to do with the blame game, whether or not people are the cause of global warming.  In the end, the cause does not matter.  It is how to best deal with it, if we can at all, that needs to be studied.  The question of humanity polluting the earth is one of good stewardship and does not require study at all.  We simply should not destroy the only home we have.  We owe it to our children to take care of the earth while we are here.  Moreover, no one can deny damage has occurred due to mankind, it would be a nice gesture on our part to leave the place better than we found it for a while and give future generations a better home.

Back to the recent events, it is simply amazing that news organizations put up a photo or video clip of a winter storm and claim it disproves global warming.  In fairness, they don’t claim it as much as imply it.  Truth is it supports the theory as unstable weather is part of it.  While some places have snow for the first time in years, like the Deep South, other places that normally have snow are without.  Vancouver, for instance, they are trucking in show for the Winter Olympics’ skiing events.  All it really proves is weather patterns are changing.  Only through the lens of history is this change understandable.

Hemispheric temperatures have not been constant over the earth’s history.  We only need to look back to the 1300s for a great example.  This was the start of a centuries long weather pattern know as the Little Ice Age (about 1300 – 1700AD).  During this period, it is thought the Northern hemisphere cooled rather than warmed, sort of the opposite of what is going on now.  What is less well know is before the Little Ice Age, there was a different weather event known as the Medieval Warm Period, during this period (about 800 – 1300AD), it is believed the hemisphere was warmer.  In both events, the average change was only about 1°C but still had dramatic results, everything from growing crops in Iceland and Greenland to crop failures in Europe due to extreme cold.  The weather patterns changed, then changed again.   It is possible we are seeing a similar event now.

Regardless of who is right this time, there is no doubt something is changing with the current long-term weather cycle, the question is what to do about it if anything.  Global warming has turned into a referendum on pollution.   Supporters of the theory were quick to determine human generated pollution was the cause.  As big business is a primary source of pollution, they obviously disagree.  Do humans cause global warming?  The answer is it does not matter and the question is stupid to ask.  Better questions are, can we change global warming and should we try to change it.  The question of pollution is much easier to deal with; we simply should not pollute the earth we live on.  Look at it at the household level, do you trash your home or clean it up now and then?

Don’t be fooled by news organizations that have an agenda.  The weather is changing.  It always has and it always will.  It is how the earth functions.  We are bound to see weather in extremes while this change takes place.  Some places will get hotter and some colder.  That does not prove or disprove the trend; it is simply part of it.  People with political agendas use the smallest of opportunities to gain advantage.  The current weather is just such an opportunity.  Don’t fall for the hysteria; don’t drink their Kool-Aid.

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