The Eco Forum
I think we have to be very careful when we assess global warming phenomena. At this point in time, with the technology used to monitor what I call "macrodynamic" atmospheric or climatological trends, focusing on greenhouse gases as one specific parameter to make such a broad based assessment may be problematic. Rather than address greenhouse gases as a parameter for assessment of global warming, I am going to concentrate on the principle component of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, in addition to a couple of other parameters for making the assessment.
I read a book several years ago about natural pollution events such as volcanic eruptions, dust storms and fires storms like those experienced this past summer in the United States and the potential impacts of these events on Earth's climate. I also read the famous study done in the early 1980s co-authored by the late Dr. Carl Sagan regarding nuclear winter and its effects on global climate. It was noted in the natural events book that one of the major volcanic eruptions, Mt. Vesuvius or Mt. Krakatoa produced more carbon dioxide than humankind has produced since our existence on the planet. Has our Earth overheated because of these natural events? Is it purely the human race's fault that the Earth may be warming? There is no question that human activity is contributing to pollutant loading of the atmosphere, as are the natural events listed above. But let's look at the pollutants very carefully - primarily carbon dioxide, which may trap heat and particulates that may reflect incoming light and heat. You ca
nnot trap what does not enter. It was noted that the global temperature fell after one of the great eruptions occurred and lasted until the many cubic miles of particulates settled or washed out of the atmosphere. Even so, fine particles from past and present sources remain trapped in the upper reaches of our atmosphere in a timeless envelope around our Earth. Dr. Sagan and his colleagues predicted significant periods of darkness and suspended particulates blocking out enough light after global thermonuclear war to dramatically alter Earth's climate for years to come.
If carbon dioxide is a primary culprit as I am implying, then let's examine alternative energy sources starting with hydrogen-powered equipment such as cars. The primary end products of hydrogen combustion are carbon dioxide and water. What happens if we have 100 million or more hydrogen powered vehicles scurrying about our planet? Let's not forget that a remediation technique for environmental problems gaining acceptance is bioremediation - a process in which certain soil and/or water borne pollutants are broken down into the fundamental metabolites of carbon dioxide, water and less toxic by-products. What about sewage treatment plants, biodegradation of animal wastes, forest detritus and crop remains? We all remember the "flatulent cow" concerns that governmental agencies felt might be a significant contributor to greenhouse gas generation. All of these sources produce significant greenhouse gas loading but is it enough to cause a global temperature crisis?
It appears to me that the Earth still has sufficient thermoregulatory capacity (i.e., heat exchanging capacity between the entrapment and reflective phenomena that I have discussed) to sustain life for many years to come. I do believe that there are other parameters we may want to consider rather than just focus on greenhouse gasses when making the assessment. A primary concern I have is that of the decades of release of simple chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). These are not naturally occurring and have been proven to damage stratospheric ozone, which shields our Earth from excessive UV light and heat penetration, and subsequent potential entrapment, which might cause a global warming trend.
Multiple parameters need to be considered to make the call for global warming. With the increasing sophistication of computer modeling and improving statistical confidence in these models, more parameters can be input and assessed to determine if the Earth's heat balance is tipping more in the direction of entrapment and heating rather than reflectivity and cooling. After all, 10 years of excessive heat out of the past 15 years is statistically significant in and of itself. But is it significant if we consider the element of geologic time and natural cycles of our planet? That is the question that requires much more study and modeling to make the call.
Mark D. Ryan
According to most studies, the effects of global warming on the ice caps would require 200 years to raise sea levels one inch. While it may be documented that sea levels have risen four to 10 inches in the last century, I seriously doubt global warming is responsible.
According to Dr. John Christy, of Earth System Science Laboratory at the
University of Alabama in Huntsville, "Based on the satellite record, which started in 1979, the equatorial tropics experienced its coolest year in 1999, when the composite temperature was 0.34 degrees Celsius below the 20-year average for that region."
Secondly, there is a study recently completed showing that the surface of the earth is warming faster than the atmosphere - the exact opposite of what would happen if global warming were a man-made phenomenon due to "greenhouse gases."
We have nowhere near the data required to determine if this is a naturally recurring event. In terms of geological time, humans have just recently appeared on this planet. I find it the height of arrogance to think we could cause such an awesome feat as warming the entire planet. The whole argument of global warming due to man-made greenhouse gases is spurious at best when you take into account natural contributors, such as volcanic activity (both above ground and undersea), plus other natural sources of gas generation. Decay of organic matter alone creates millions of metric tons of methane gas every year.
Of course the ten warmest years of the last century occurred in the last fifteen years. The same statement could have been made in any year for the last twenty thousand years. Big deal! The last age, and there have been several if we can believe a scientist, ended over twenty-thousand years ago, and the frost line has been receding at a constant rate ever since. You could have stated that the coldest day world wide in recorded history occurred within the last fifteen years.
The space administration announced several years ago that they had been monitoring for 12 years and there was no indication that there was any deterioration of the ozone layer. They made the announcement when the first harpers of doom begin to use global warming to rid the U.S. of some of the best products ever made. The space administration reported only a few months ago, "There is still no indication there is any damage to the ozone layer. Global warming is a process that has been progressing far longer than the industrial revolution; therefore there must be some reason, other than global warming, some special interest group or groups, are using the natural occurring phenomena to foster their agenda." That agenda is contained in the words of Al Gore, who at every opportunity bemoans the fact that people have private transportation. If you wish confirmation check the Federal Register (FR) which states that it is federal policy to see that Americans enjoy their new mode of transportation, whi
ch is walking or riding a bicycle. The exact words from the FR Volume 60, Number 9 of Friday, January 13, 1995 on page 3297 reads, "The vision of this program is a nation of travelers with new opportunities to walk or ride a bicycle as part of their everyday life. The vision of this program is the creation of a changed transportation system." There is much more, such as the Hitler style checkpoint Charlie of World War II. Coded license plates are already in use and roadside scanners are being put in place that will reveal when you pass. Check it out in the FR. Uncle Adolph is here.
Why are the rules being formulated now to decrease the speed limits and other restrictive measures such as plowing streets under and making jogging trails and bicycle paths? There seem to be no plans under way to close the big polluters such as the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport, which spews more pollution than all the automobiles in north Texas. Not only do they pollute, but they deposit most of it where it might impact the ozone. The pollution they spew forth is carcinogenic, the automobile exhaust is not. The Age of Folly is now.
Question to Ponder and Answer
With rising oil prices and an energy crisis on the West Coast, it is clear that the United States must improve their energy infrastructure. According to Time magazine, nearly half the states are in various stages of deregulating their part of the nation's $218 billion electricity system. Is the entire nation ready for deregulation? Billions are being spent to keep the lights on in California alone. Should more power plants be built? If so, what kind? What's the best option for U.S. energy infrastructure? Let us know. Chat in our discussion forum at www.eponline.com or send your comments to email@example.com.
This article appeared in the March 2001 issue of Environmental Protection, Vol. 12, No. 3, on page 10.
This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2001 issue of Environmental Protection.