Curve Ball

December 22, 2010

A lot of different stuff need debate — tax laws, wars in foreign lands, and so forth.
However, if something is near-overwhelmingly obvious any kind of debate just wastes time in seeking a solution to the debatable question.
Global warming, i.e., climate change is one of those — the evidence is startling and should not be batted back and forth by the ignorant to imperil the masses.

And what makes this so important, the ingredients for global warming are increasing, accelerating and pushing the livable envelope for humanity.
(Illustration found here).

The main factor is carbon dioxide, or CO2, which is increasing even as I write, or you speak.
In a terrific and long piece this morning in the New York Times, a profile of Charles David Keeling, who put together the machine for measuring CO2 in the air — and since the 1950s the apparatus has been churning up numbers on an upward spiral.
From the Times:

When Dr. Keeling, as a young researcher, became the first person in the world to develop an accurate technique for measuring carbon dioxide in the air, the amount he discovered was 310 parts per million.
That means every million pints of air, for example, contained 310 pints of carbon dioxide.
By 2005, the year he died, the number had risen to 380 parts per million.
Sometime in the next few years it is expected to pass 400.
Without stronger action to limit emissions, the number could pass 560 before the end of the century, double what it was before the Industrial Revolution.

When people began burning substantial amounts of coal and oil in the 19th century, the carbon dioxide level began to rise.
It is now about 40 percent higher than before the Industrial Revolution, and humans have put half the extra gas into the air since just the late 1970s.
Emissions are rising so rapidly that some experts fear that the amount of the gas could double or triple before emissions are brought under control.
The earth’s history offers no exact parallel to the human combustion of fossil fuels, so scientists have struggled to calculate the effect.
Their best estimate is that if the amount of carbon dioxide doubles, the temperature of the earth will rise about five or six degrees Fahrenheit.
While that may sound small given the daily and seasonal variations in the weather, the number represents an annual global average, and therefore an immense addition of heat to the planet.
The warming would be higher over land, and it would be greatly amplified at the poles, where a considerable amount of ice might melt, raising sea levels.
The deep ocean would also absorb a tremendous amount of heat.
Moreover, scientists say that an increase of five or six degrees is a mildly optimistic outlook.
They cannot rule out an increase as high as 18 degrees Fahrenheit, which would transform the planet.

And in a bit of irony on GOP-fueled climate deniers — Keeling’s widow:

“He was a registered Republican,” she said. “He just didn’t think of it as a political issue at all.”

Most scientists think 350 ppm is the living/dying point.
Read the entire Times article, enlightening and persuasive.

One must keep in mind that global warming greatly influences our weather, everywhere.
From AFP:

At first glance, this flurry of frostiness would seem to be at odds with standard climate change scenarios in which Earth’s temperature steadily rises, possibly by as much as five or six degrees Celsius (9.0 to 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100.
Climate sceptics who question the gravity of global warming or that humans are to blame point to the deep chills as confirmation of their doubts.
Such assertions, counter scientists, mistakenly conflate the long-term patterns of climate with the short-term vagaries of weather, and ignore regional variation in climate change impacts.
New research, however, goes further, showing that global warming has actually contributed to Europe’s winter blues.
Rising temperatures in the Arctic — increasing at two to three times the global average — have peeled back the region’s floating ice cover by 20 percent over the last three decades.
This has allowed more of the Sun’s radiative force to be absorbed by dark-blue sea rather than bounced back into space by reflective ice and snow, accelerating the warming process.
More critically for weather patterns, it has also created a massive source of heat during the winter months.
“Say the ocean is at zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit),” said Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.
“That is a lot warmer than the overlying air in the polar area in winter, so you get a major heat flow heating up the atmosphere from below which you don’t have when it is covered by ice. That’s a massive change,” he told AFP in an interview.

And do go out without you’re rubbers — or your boat.

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