I'm Right Again Dot Com

A new commentary every Wednesday   -  August 26, 2015


About Global Warming

     It may have been nearly forty years ago that I first read articles by scientists being concerned about the "hole in the ozone layer" over Antarctica and what this could portend for our planet. At the time, scientists were mostly concerned with the effect of harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun, unhampered by the protection our marvelous atmosphere affords. Learned people ascribed this to the increase in the use of chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons by humans. I learned that all I had to do to help was to go back to using soap to shave, instead of Barbasol in a pressured cannister. No big deal.

     Having experienced a rash of tornados that occurred early in my childhood, the dust storms of the 1930s when half of Oklahoma blew away, and at least one destructive typhoon in the Philippines, I thought at the time that whatever was causing the phenomenon over the poles was a transitory fact of Mom Nature's. She has proven the ability to heal many aberrations in the past.    

    For 200 years or more, thousands, perhaps millions of people, have kept track of thermometer readings. The trend line for temperatures worldwide is tracing upward relentlessly. Fact:  Approximately half of the Arctic ice cap has melted, and the one over the Antarctic is literally disintegrating. (Biblical scholars have yet to declare that the last time this took place, Noah's ark was already undergoing a decisive increase in size, by the order of Mrs. Noah).  

    I wrote the above as a set-up so I could talk to a few of you scufflers in the crowd about Global Warming.  I have become convinced that if it continues along the current trend line, it will be a slowly evolving disaster for all living things on this planet. No, you and I are not going to wake up one day and find that the Statue of Liberty is standing knee deep in water.  It's not going to happen that fast.  However, the people on the island nation of Kiribati, once known as  the Cook Islands (named after the English seafaring explorer), are looking to soon leave their home for Fiji, if the water continues to rise on their island group. They are only inches away from being swept away by rising tides. All of that melting ice water has to go somewhere.

    The most noticeable thing to me over the last four to five decades has been slowly evolving changes in the weather. It has become more violent. Some attribute this to better global communication. I certainly hope they are right. I am willing to admit that I could be wrong in coupling the two phenomena.

     A follower recently asked if I had "bought into the liberal 'greenhouse-gas plot?'" (House Speaker John Boehner once said "The idea of carbon-dioxide emissions being harmful, is almost comical.") 

    If you were Sherlock Holmes and you came upon irrefutable evidence that the world is on track for an average global temperature rise at least seven degrees Fahrenheit at the same time that global emissions of carbon emissions  have increased from six billion metric tons in 1990 to ten billions metric tons in 2014, you would probably consider naming the increase in emissions the culprit.

    It's informative to know that scientists in a hundred and ninety-five countries believe that the cause for the historic temperature increase is due to the continued increase in carbon emissions.

    In this context, scientists usually speak of "parts per million." Worldwide records show conclusively that by 1995, carbon dioxide levels had reached 350 parts per million in the atmosphere. This year
it was measured at 400 parts per million.

    The problem: Entire nations: China, Saudi Arabia and the United States for example, that are big in the fossil fuel extraction and consumption business, are painfully slow to support curtailment of it.

    Catch 22: In 1995, China was emitting nearly a billion tons of carbon a year into the atmosphere. By 2005, it's output of carbon into the atmosphere had doubled. It has surpassed the United States in annual carbon emissions. At the current rate, they are putting 10 new coal-fired generators on line for every one that is shut down in the United States.  (Tucson Electric Power recently made the switch to natural gas after investing millions in a coal-fired generator in the 1960s).

    One more consideration. Before the end of this century, two billion more family members will be joining us on this planet. The ramifications of that are enormous.

    I really hate to mention this as a final conclusion: that junk up there is not going to miraculously go away. A solution must be found to do that—and nowhere in my research have I read a suggestion of any possible cure being sought. As in Las Vegas, apparently what happens in our atmosphere, stays in our atmosphere.   

-Phil Richardson, Observer of the human condition and storyteller. "He goes doddering on into his old age, making a public nuisance of himself" -  Joseph L. Menchen. 



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