Climate change story is not black and white
On Saturday I attended a talk on climate change and its effect on forests. What I expected to take away from this presentation was hard facts and solid data to let me make some real conclusions based on sound scientific reasoning. I left the talk very disappointed.
There is little doubt in my mind that climate change is occurring. The discussion on which factors cause these warm and cool cycles certainly muddies the water.
We are bombarded by information at all levels and most of it is slanted one way or the other. Everyone has a spin to put on it.
The nightly news has morphed since the time of Cedric Adams and is more entertainment than actual news reporting. Ratings and how to keep listenership have changed the whole system dramatically.
Climate change is a very complicated issue and has numerous variables that go into it. Almost all our energy comes from or has come from the sun. Our coal, gas and oil reserves are the product of past interaction of plants and our sun. Energy from the sun is the prime mover in this equation and the sun is the reason that life on our planet exists. How man's overpopulation and abuse of the earth's resources contribute to the natural phenomena of climate change is what is debated.
Last summer has been deemed warmer than normal for parts of the northern hemisphere. Warmer springs combined with milder winters give some credibility to a warmer environment over time. A natural warming trend over the last 8,000 years has turned the earth into a very comfortable place for humans to reproduce and prosper.
Farming areas once covered by a mile of glacial ice are now producing crops to feed the hungry. Trends are established over time and there are trends among trends. A short time period of a few hundred years is really too short of a time period to make any viable predictions. Google "Little Ice Age" and see what can happen to a relatively large area over a short period of time.
Getting back to the presentation, the main culprit in the global warming story is manmade carbon dioxide. Burning of fossil fuels supposedly drives climate change causing the earth to warm because of the greenhouse effect. Is carbon dioxide a bad thing? Carbon dioxide is the reason for life on earth. It is converted by plants through photosynthesis to produce carbohydrates and water along with the byproduct oxygen. Again, energy from the sun makes photosynthesis possible. Is too much carbon dioxide a bad thing?
It was stressed that the main producers of carbon dioxide was the burning of fossil fuels. Volcanos also add some to the atmosphere. Oversized SUVs have been targeted as major contributors. The facts are that carbon dioxide is produced by many things including human respiration. Any time you build a fire in the back yard lots of carbon dioxide is produced. Heating your home produces it. Decomposition of any organic materials including rotting vegetation and even rust produce it. The list could go on and on.
Many anecdotal examples of man-made climate change and the corresponding potential catastrophic effects can be given. Glacial ice is melting at an alarming rate which will lead to coastal flooding. What happened to the mile thick glacial icepack that existed just 8,000 years ago over the very site where you are sitting reading this now? That was just one of 10 or more ice ages that have been identified through geological records to have occurred.
The water in the Great Lakes is evaporating due to staying ice free longer. Without the weight of the glaciers, the land around the Great Lakes has experienced a rebound and is rising.
Moose populations are declining because of the increasing temperatures and some are dying of heatstroke due to rapid respiration in an attempt to stay cool. Inbreeding, over-browsing leading to habitat destruction and parasites could also contribute to the localized moose decline.
Invasives are moving into the area because of climate change. Exotic worms, deer and wolves are becoming more abundant. If you think about it, every bit of fauna and flora that exists in this area today could be considered invasive because not much could live here with a mile thick ice sheet 8,000 years ago. The examples are endless.
The biggest problem I see with misinformation and the lack of any solid data that can lead one to a valid conclusion are knee jerk reactions. A classic example was our rush to get green with ethanol replacement of fossil fuel. When it costs more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than that gallon of ethanol can produce and when government subsidies are used to keep prices down something is amiss! But I digress.
There is a multitude of factors that will affect the warming process. Man's activities are certainly a part of the equation. We need to conserve wherever we can and do whatever can be done to tone down the excesses.
Climate change is not black and white but more than 50 shades of gray. This is my story and I'm sticking to it!