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Monday, February 19, 2007

Global Warming? Climate Change?

I just don't know about this Global Warming thing. Obviously, something is going wonky if the north polar ice cap lost 35% of its area and 40% of its thickness. Something is going crazy when a whole glacier the size of Massachusetts down in Antarctic broke up and disappeared in a two week period. I can grasp the theory that there could be a tipping point where one more tiny change means a whopping big result out of scale with any previous change.

But did man cause it? I don't know. And would giving up America's precious cars change it? Not proven, one way or the other. Which means we need to find out, not pretend there is no problem or over-react to a politically-driven hypothesis.

Earth's climate has many cycles which overlap, some of them countering each other. I frankly don't believe that anything the human race can do would cause a bigger change than is happening already, but I accept that I could be wrong. And I would like to know. And while there is some evidence and some theories and some guesses, there is today no PROOF. I respect those who think that the theories and guesses mean we need to ACT NOW, and some reasonable conservation matters are always a good idea.

One good test is to see where those who are arguing that global warming means we must change society were on the changing society issue before global warming showed up. Yep, right where they are now. The left is saying we must give up cars and gasoline, and the right is saying more oil and bigger cars won't hurt a bit. Both were saying that before the term "global warming" was "discovered" and now they insist it proves their point. And the point keeps changing. It's actually been getting cooler the last five or six years, which is why the global warming crowd now talks about global climate change. I don't want my grand-nephews to die of bad weather just because the global warming crowd was ham-handed in their propaganda. If this is real, prove it. I'll agree to tax money being spent on honest research to find out.

The case for global warming (or climate change) is based on rising levels of C02. The problem is, there is no proof in the ice cores that C02 will cause a climate change. In fact, the opposite. The ice cores show that CO2 rises AFTER the weather changes, not before. Now, we are in the middle of the worst C02 increase in known history, and ok, I'll consider the theory that this will change the climate. I will even consider it a probability. But the point is that since this has never happened before, nobody knows what it will do. An interesting point is that the UN computer models for the weather show that the C02 levels will cause a major climate change, but those models do not include a few known and proven factors (like the sun today is not the same as the sun 30 years ago) and those factors are 10-100 times the impact of human-produced CO2.

Here's a thought. Half of the human race does not have electricity or clean water, and we're never going to provide them with either without burning more fuel (of some kind). Even better, "giving up the cars" doesn't really change THAT much since everybody then has to get to work by bus or train. The social upheaval of suddenly having all of the suburbs become uninhabitable due to the "how do I get to work" issue could be serious. The social upheaval of evacuating coastal cities would be worse, and I don't see anybody trying to figure that one out.

Here is another thought. Most of the melting ice is already either floating in the ocean or on places where the "ground" is below sea level, and won't change ocean depth. But it will make the ocean less salty and that MIGHT change the way warm water moves around, stopping the conveyor that takes equitorial heat into the north and south, which could mean other problems (like that crazy movie a while back).

I don't know what's up, and frankly, neither does anybody else. There is a lot of hysteria on one side and a lot of head-in-the-sand on the other side. I'm all for finding out what the heck IS happening. I'm all for doing reasonable things that would make sense even if there was no such thing as global climate change. But I do resent the hype and the hysteria, and I don't trust the "it will all be ok" crowd either.

Leanna and I used to come to work in two cars, since she worked 8 hours a day and I worked ten. Now, we come to work in one car four days a week (I work 8 hours those days) and in two cars two days a week (I work 12 hours those days). That cuts our family gasoline consumption 25%, saves us money, reduces greenhouse gasses. It makes sense, even if it makes for some very long days.

The UN just issued a new report "proving" global warming, but it is politically motivated (their "cure" to the problem is to move western industry into 3rd world countries; this was the same thing Kyoto tried to do, and no, Kyoto had nothing to do with the environment, and everything to do with shipping jobs and money from the west to third world countries).

I have no doubt that anyone with Google can find all the data, fact, theory, and opinion they want on global warming. Here's a few sites that tend to dispute the "prevailing wisdom". Those who support the global warming theory should read them, while those who dispute the theory should study up for the next debate around the table in the coffee break room: Friendsofscience.org, CO2Science.org, and JunkScience.com (there are many others). Better is an intriguing interview with a real weather scientist who has never taken a time from the oil companies: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/columnists/steigerwald/s_492572.html [If somebody will email me a couple of web sites that support the climate change theory, I will post them in a future blog]

Of course, after what my doctor told me last week (lose weight or die!), and the fact that I have no children, global warming is the least of my personal concerns. But it still bothers me, and the kids (Isis and Ramses, my bengal wildcats) REALLY do not like snow one bit.