MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md., July 14, 2012 — In the last month or so, we have broken over 1,000 temperature records in the US. We have also seen a big increase in extreme weather and in weather related episodes in unusual places. Is this a manifestation of Global Warming? Could be.
The National Climatic Data Center has reported that the last 12 consecutive months have been the hottest since recording started in 1895.
Back in engineering school in the early 1970s, we were introduced to a new theory, then called the “Greenhouse Effect.” As is usually the case with engineers and scientists, we were presented with black boards full of numbers and diagrams. Later when I took a course in air pollution, the professor who was a nationally known expert further explained the theory. The simple explanation is as follows:
Light from the sun enters our atmosphere with certain energy; as it goes through our atmosphere and is reflected back, energy is lost. Energy is lost when the light warms things on the ground and the atmosphere. This loss is manifested by the reflecting light having a different energy signature and is partially stopped by the atmosphere. This energy makes our planet benign to living things. As in a greenhouse, the planet warms up. Certain gases like carbon dioxide and methane extend this effect, warming the planet even more.
This is a very simple explanation that most of us have been informed of by the media and in “weather for jocks” classes. So how does it impact our weather?
Weather is extremely complex. We know from history and geological records that our planet has gone through extreme weather periods. Ice ages were followed by warming periods that made some of the extremely cold areas of today become warm and tropical like rain forests. So when one overlays weather’s complex behavior over the Global Warming theory, a simple answer is not forthcoming.
There is even a study that theorizes that relatively large concentration of airborne particles may have delayed Global Warming. It appears to say that once we diminish the airborne particle concentration, Global Warming may accelerate. Another study indicates that maybe the acceleration of the melting polar cap could be caused by the relative concentration of airborne sulfates and black carbon particles.
Periods of extreme heat could tell us a lot about Global Warming, if properly studied. There’s some evidence that increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have contributed to global warming. Even sites that deny the existence of Global Warming don’t deny this fact. Their explanation is that that there is no evidence that the increase of carbon dioxide increased the temperature of the earth, instead they suggest that maybe the increase of temperature increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
They do agree that since the start of the industrial revolution, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased and “There is also little doubt the earth has warmed slightly over the same period …” They do, however, deny that Global Warming is caused by the increase of human industrial activity. It is interesting that some of these sites either are funded by fossil fuel interests or refuse to divulge their funding. It is also interesting that they claim that the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is counteracted by the increased bio demand of it.
Another approach that some use to deny the possibility of Global Warming is that Earth has gone through warm periods before that could not be blamed on human activity. A recent discovery in the North Atlantic by oil and gas scientist and engineers reveals that this area could have had a warmer climate than at the present. The article seems to hint that maybe this was the venue of the legendary Atlantis as the land that is now covered by water had a temperate climate and was suitable for human habitation.
Other deniers take the faith route, claiming that God is the only one that controls the weather. Supposedly if one prays a lot, Global Warming will not happen. The optimists believe that even if Global Warming happens, someone will find a scientific or engineering solution to minimize its adverse effects.
The most common reasons to go against a logical theory that has the support of most scientists on Earth include:
*Those that have a big stake on preventing the curtailment of carbon dioxide emissions like power companies, the oil industry, the automotive industry, developing countries, the mining industry, the petro chemical industry, and others that either see their product being impacted or would force them to make large investments in carbon sequestration or reduction;
* Those that believe that God has given us the right to exploit the Earth resources without any limit;
* Those that believe God or humans will provide a solution;
* Some of the people that drive big SUVs and pickup trucks;
* It is inconvenient.
A simple analogy would be that in a big city there is a street named “CO2 Street.” Some rabid anarchists have decided to occupy it during the Thanksgiving to Christmas period. The authorities warn that since many commuters use this route, traffic would be a nightmare and alternative modes of transportation or routes would be needed. CO2 Street, one of the city’s largest commercial areas, would be hurt by the lack of traffic.
The merchants would try to minimize or deny there’s a problem. The uninformed would still take this route, complaining. Logical people would find an alternative. The extreme believer would still take the route, knowing that God would make the experience better. Tea Party fanatics, saying the Constitution guarantees freedom of movement, would insist on the right to use CO2 Street.
I would stay home since I am retired and don’t have to go anywhere near CO2 Street. I would spend the time reading about sustainable sources of energy that minimize carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is a bleeding heart liberal, agnostic, exercise fanatic, Redskin fan, technophile, civil engineer, combat infantry veteran, jewelry maker, amateur computer programmer, Environmental engineer, Colombian-born, free thinker, and, not surprisingly, pacifist. You can find his articles - ranging from politics to cooking a mean brisket - in 21st Century Pacifist <http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/21st-century-pacifist/> at The Washington Times Communities. Follow Mario on Twitter @chibcharus #TWTC and Facebook at Mario Salazar.
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