Sunday, March 4, 2007

How Real Is Global Warming

By: Ringo Bones and Vanessa Uy

Since the runaway blockbuster success of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and a well-founded case of “Republicans” suppressing evidence on global warming since the mid-1990’s, is everyone ready to heed the warning signs?

We’ve been always fascinated by the concept behind the “Einsteinian Dictum.” It’s Albert Einstein’s suggestions to scientists when presenting their scientific theories and laws to the general public. Einstein says “Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler.” On presenting their ideas on global warming to the public, “simple as possible” is fast becoming “we don’t get it” unless you’re a climatologist with a minor in chaos theory. The earth’s climatic system is quite complex that at present there are still some aspects of it that we don’t understand. The good news is that more and more people are well informed of the issues on taking care of our climate. The bad news is that a lot of people, including climatologists and policymakers under the tenure of the industrial-political-powers-that-be, can quite easily refute the existence of global warming using the complexity of the earth’s climate as an excuse.

One aspect of this confusion is the natural “greenhouse effect” that keeps the global average temperature to within 25ºC. This is caused by the small amount of carbon dioxide gas (200 parts per million) that’s naturally present in the earth’s atmosphere. This traps the infrared or heat component of the sun’s radiation that reaches us. Without this, our global average temperature would be about -30ºC. The main culprit of global warming is the dramatic increase of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere due to our industrial processes being run by burning fossil fuels.

Global warming that’s caused by the increase of greenhouse gasses, primarily carbon dioxide, was first described by Dr. Roger Revelle back in 1957. Revelle was concerned about the vast quantities of carbon dioxide venting into the earth’s atmosphere as a by-product of our industrial processes like electricity generation and/or transportation. Revelle wrote that, ”Mankind is inadvertently conducting a great geochemical experiment.” As the world’s climatologists continue to gather data during the intervening years, recently, a large majority came to an alarming conclusion. It was assumed that Earth’s climatic system was resilient enough to absorb shocks and respond to human influence in a steady, gradual way has come under question. One prediction by climatologists that’s being suppressed by the industrial-political-powers-that-be is that the climate can suddenly – within a century or less – flip into an entirely different mode, a “climate change.” In fact, the climatologists argue using evidence recently collected from the polar ice caps and ocean sediments shows that it has already occurred in the past.

Due to the lack of concrete findings from the scientific community, our policymakers are forced to adopt a wait- and-see approach, which is being criticized by the experts as a dangerous naïveté. A number of qualified weather experts are challenging the present existence of global warming that’s being caused by the increase of greenhouse gas emissions. Reid Bryson, a prominent professor of meteorology at the University of Wisconsin, has stated that the global warming predictions are based on flawed data. If anything Bryson and others claim, that the worldwide climate over the past 50 years is getting colder, not warmer. Kenneth E. F. Watt, professor of zoology and environmental studies at the University of California at Davis, points out that the urban "heat-island" effect known since 1952 is the reason why the data we have at present that points to global warming is suspect. Another critic is James Goodrich, one time chief climatologist for the state of California, points out that the use of urban temperature records for monitoring long-term climatic trends skews the results that would validate the existence of global warming.

Despite the credible experts probably with vested interests from the industrial-political-powers-that-be, an- albeit less vocal majority of the scientific establishment in the United States tends to accept the existence of global warming. One of them is James Hansen of NASA, has been recommending immediate congressional action since the mid-1980’s, to slow down the degradation of the earth’s atmosphere, and set targets for global reduction in the burning of fossil fuels.

As Vanessa and I viewed Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” a movie which is a critique-backed-by-scientific-data to the policymaker’s inaction in taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We can say that we are now better informed and thus have a more realistic perception of the big picture. Using the worse case scenario projected progression of global warming, we can conclude that the Kyoto Protocol’s target and timetable of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is unrealistic. It’s a “catch 22” of the industrial world’s reluctant to develop and adapt non-carbon based alternative sources, and the long term effects of the greenhouse gasses from industry even if we suddenly stop generating them.

And even if you don’t believe that global warming exists, you should know that the “American Foreign Policy Du Jour” affects us all. The U.S. Government’s dependence on foreign oil and reluctance to develop and adapt alternative energy sources is a sign that it’s okay for them to “reward bad behavior” to despotic Middle-Eastern States that are the primary producers of petroleum. This petroleum dependence is the source of revenue of these repressive regimes that threaten geopolitical stability.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

Is Al Gore committing the cardinal sin of just "preaching to the choir" or preaching to the converted? Its just most of the people I know who had seen An Inconvenient Truth were all practicing eco warriors, some for more than 40 years.