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Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014

Warming up to global warming

Posted Monday, September 10, 2007, at 12:04 PM

I'm not convinced -- at least not yet -- that global warming is affecting our environment.

But the hottest, driest summer in my memory plus the past few snowless winters (remember snow? It's white and falls from the sky in flakes...) have got me wondering.

Are we -- by "we" I mean humanity in general -- at fault?

I can see how smoke-belching factories -- and Shelbyville has had its share -- could have had a cumulative effect over the years. Yet I also have a hard time imagining that the atmosphere is permanently damaged, or that the aerosol deodorant most people used not so many years ago could have left its mark.

But I'm not shutting out the theory, either, and am willing to listen with an open mind.

It's too bad certain politicians aren't open-minded enough to do so -- and/or are using global warming as a political code phrase instead of taking it seriously.

In particular, President Bush's seemingly total dismissal of global warming advocates' views is completely wrong. Any leader who disparages those who show concern about our environment obviously has a "polluted" mind.

Sometimes I think Al Gore goes too far to the other extreme, but since I have a lot of respect for him I'm listening.

It's probably those of us in the middle of the two extremes who will ultimately make a difference. Hopefully I'll become "greener", as the environmentally aware say, as time goes by.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Put me on the side of the "unconvinced".

-- Posted by sambntn on Mon, Sep 10, 2007, at 12:09 PM

>>Yet I also have a hard time imagining that the atmosphere is permanently damaged.

Earth was here long before humans, and it will be here long after it erases us from existence.

I am reposting my previous response to the same topic.

You only need basic reasoning skills to understand climate change. The earth is a very large bubble, not much gets in and not much gets out. If we fill this bubble with carbon dioxide, a waste product from our and other animals' natural respiration process, then we will die. Luckily for us we have plants. Plants use carbon dioxide and release oxygen in their energy harnessing process called photosynthesis. Unfortunately humans are destroying the habitats that plants thrive in and we humans continue to increase in numbers. Not to mention we burn coal and other fossil fuels in our quest for energy that also releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Many scientists believe that carbon dioxide traps heat in our atmosphere like a blanket, I can't speak to that. Many of these chemists, ecologists, biologists, and other scientists have devoted their entire lives to their fields of study and probably have good reason for their beliefs. Oil executives, Barbara Boxer, and Phil Valentine have not put too much time into these areas of study. If I touch something I leave a fingerprint. If I could take a syringe and inject a red gas into a bubble I will have changed the bubble into a red gas filled bubble. Regardless of the cycle of the sun or how hot it is in March our planet is changing due to the activities of man. We must work now to reduce the size of our fingerprint on the atmosphere. We also should keep our rivers and forests clean so we will have fresh water to drink and animals to hunt for food. No human knows for sure what will happen as a result of our actions, but one thing is certain; we ARE changing our planet.

-- Posted by nathan.evans on Mon, Sep 10, 2007, at 12:33 PM

Also I would like to comment on the flawed math used by many radio talk show hosts as they try to debunk global warming.

G. Gordon Liddy described the earth's atmosphere in terms of a football field (100 yards = 100 percent). He says that if you assign a yardage to each component of the earth's air then you will see how small and insignificant carbon dioxide is. So lets start. The first major gas is nitrogen which would take you from your end zone all the way to the 78 yard line. Next is oxygen which comprises 21% of the atmosphere. So with only nitrogen's 78 yard carry and oxygen's 21 yard carry we are within one yard of a touchdown. The next gas found is argon and its .9% puts us within one/tenth of a yard of a touchdown. The next gas is carbon dioxide, which makes up only .033% of our is atmosphere and is commonly regarded as the problem by scientists. Now the talk show hosts argue that such a small amount of gas could not possibly create this problem. Just look at nitrogen and oxygen, they make up 99% of the atmosphere. This is where their math is flawed. Here is why. Say for example you make $99 every week and that is your salary. Now lets say that I make $.03 every week. Now lets say the boss decides to give us all 3 cents more a week. My pay would have of course doubled, but you would have only noticed a .3% increase in pay. For me getting doubling my pay could have a tremendous effect on my life. Carbon dioxide is no different. As our automobiles and smoke stacks pump out carbon dioxide we slowly but steadily increase levels of carbon dioxide, a gas proven to trap heat in our atmosphere. A very small increase in the already very small levels can cause great change.

-- Posted by nathan.evans on Mon, Sep 10, 2007, at 1:03 PM

CORRECTION - My pay would have of course doubled, but you would have only noticed a .3% increase in pay.

.3% should be .03%

-- Posted by nathan.evans on Mon, Sep 10, 2007, at 1:33 PM

I basically view global warming like I do God . . it's better to believe in it and find out it doesn't exist than to not believe and find out it's real and be screwed.

Sorry, this time I didnt feel like putting my comment into eloquent terms. LOL!

-- Posted by jaxspike on Mon, Sep 10, 2007, at 2:59 PM

Nathon, I read quite a bit on this subject and I've seen the the warming potential of CO2 is a matter of dispute among scientist. A recent University study in Europe concluded that the warming potential of C02 is one-third of what is used by the IPCC.

There is little dispute that C02 contributes keeping the planet from getting cold but is but one of many variables contributing to the climate. I know of no climate model that can known data plugged into it and re-create know numbers. You can even look at Al Gores graphs and see that temperature can go up or down as greater amounts of C02 are pumped into the atmosphere. As for the 90% probability expressed in the IPCC report, remember correlation is not always causation (and 90% is not good correlation in statistics as I learned in college 95% is a minimum level of significance.)

I believe that humans are contributing to the deterioration of the environment but C02 is probably an insignificant issue. Clear cutting forest, the building and/or expansion of urban areas, damning of rivers, and soot from un-scrubbed coal burning in Asia have a great impact local conditions (i.e. glacier melting in Asia.) Black soot from Asia has been found on Greenland glaciers and we all learned in elementary school science that black absorbs heat.

-- Posted by banjobob on Mon, Sep 10, 2007, at 9:11 PM

Good analogy banjobob...

Love it!

-- Posted by nascarfanatic on Mon, Sep 10, 2007, at 10:08 PM

banjobob correct me if I am wrong, but you are speaking of the global warming potential (GWP) of carbon dioxide which is used as a baseline to state the GWP of other gases. Your statement that the warming potential of carbon dioxide is a matter of dispute is not one that shows that carbon dioxide is not a source of global warming. The scientists are disputing the scale that has been created by the IPCC not that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are warming the earth. Just because the GWP of carbon dioxide is disputed (which causes all the other gases measurements on the scale to be disputed) does not mean that increasing levels of carbon dioxide will not continue to increase heat levels on our planet.

Yes, I too believe that there are many factors contributing to climate change. Most of them are not naturally created by our environment.

You stated that, "I believe that humans are contributing to the deterioration of the environment, but C02 is probably an insignificant issue. Clear cutting forest, the building and/or expansion of urban areas, damning of rivers, and soot from un-scrubbed coal burning in Asia have a great impact local conditions (i.e. glacier melting in Asia.)"

Here is what I take from this.

Clear cutting - Plants "breathe" carbon dioxide and "exhale" oxygen. carbon dioxide increase

Building and/or expansion of urban areas - more cars, more power plants, more trucks delivering goods and services, less plants. carbon dioxide increase

damming of rivers - less water available downstream creating more human habitable lands and less plant habitats. - carbon dioxide increase

un-scrubbed coal burning - carbon dioxide

melting Greenland glaciers - many believe will lead to a cooling effect due to increased fresh water levels in earth's oceans causing change in ocean currents. We will find out soon.

-- Posted by nathan.evans on Mon, Sep 10, 2007, at 11:00 PM

Nathan... You are too informed. I agree whole-heartedly with your post.

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Mon, Sep 10, 2007, at 11:06 PM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.