Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Global warming: The ocean is rising! The ocean is rising!

1200 scientists and innumerable government-appointed editors are in the process of telling us that human-induced global warming has begun.

Let's get real for a moment. This has happened before. It has happened more than once before. Regardless of whether dinosaur flatulence contributed to any periods of global warming during their period of ascendancy, scientists are acting like humanity is on a self-destructive path that is altering the natural state of the universe.

I have to roll my eyes every time that card is played because it's just so false and deceptive.

Now, that doesn't mean we aren't on the verge of a long period of seeing massive environmental changes. We've seen monster storms come up and knock away whole towns and cities. Flooding has apparently increased in some areas of the world and droughts have increased in other areas of the world.

And the oceans should rise between 4 and 35 inches over the next 100 years.

Okay, folks, we get it. It's going to get hot, it's going to get wet, and a lot of people will be displaced for any number of environmental reasons.

What shames the scientific community at this point in the process, however, is their failure to suggest any practical applications that take advantage of global warming while we look for ways to reduce the amount of our industrial influence on the phenomenon. We cannot hope to stop what remains a natural process, but we can possibly reduce the amount of acceleration we put into that process through our pollution.

Meanwhile, people are dying of drought-induced famine as the oceans rise.

Has anyone considered the fact that we actually have the technology to convert salt water to fresh water?

Has anyone considered the fact that we have the technology to create huge pipelines to carry liquids across thousands of miles?

Has anyone considered the fact that if you built ten, twenty, thirty, one hundred desalination plants across north Africa and a network of pipelines to carry the fresh water you could create huge resevoirs across the desert (which was once a well-watered plain)?

Has anyone considered how many jobs would created by such a project?

Has anyone considered how many farms could be supported by such a project?

Has anyone considered how much supporting infrastructure would additionally be required by such a project, increasing the number of jobs and resources available to impoverished nations?

The north and east African nations could reinvent themselves, feed their peoples, improve their economies, and reduce their populations' sympathies for militant groups that really have no goals other than to enslave and murder as many people as they can.

And Africa is not the only continent that could benefit from this relatively simple, low-cost technology. We could rebuild depleted water reserves throughout North America's western plains and deserts, where growing cities have drained rivers dry and lowered the water levels of huge underground aquifers by hundreds of feet in some places.

Even Australia could open up its massive arid interior to channels of development that would spur growth and, most importantly, help funnel water out of the oceans into regions that haven't seen water for hundreds, thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of years.

Now, environmentalists will be quick to say, "Wait! We cannot simply go flooding existing ecosystems that have adapted to arid conditions! What about all the species that will die off?"

To which one can only reply, "What about all the coastal species and ecosystems already being destroyed by rising oceans and worsening storm systems?"

There are no perfect solutions, but our problems today extend well beyond global warming. Millions of people die from starvation and disease every year simply because they lack the basic resources to survive. How many desert rats and lizards are 1,000,000 babies worth?

Yes, we contributed to the problem but the truth of the matter is that global warming began more than 10,000 years ago. It didn't begin because of human activity and it's only in the past few hundred years that human activity has become capable of accelerating the process. We are currently living in what is called an Interglacial Period. That is, geologically, the Earth is passing through an Ice Age (a period of alternating cold and warm phases), but we're in the midst of a warming phase that has put the Ice Age on hold.

Eventually, despite global warming, the Earth will again cool down and we'll enter another glacial period such as the one that ended about 12,000 years ago. Glacial periods tend to last for tens of thousands of years. Interglacial Periods can last for similar lengths of time but they tend to be shorter. The current Interglacial Period may last another 10-15,000 years. We don't know.

The last Interglacial Period warmed the Earth past the point where its climate currently stands now. Europe and North America were like tropical paradises. So the peril represented by global warming is not one that threatens Earth's ecosystem. Micro-ecosystems have risen and died out endlessly as part of the natural process for as long as there has been life on Earth. Polish aristocrats cut down an entire forest several hundred years ago, created a desert, and many of the animals in the region adapted to that desert environment. Now that desert is threatened by development and reforestation.

Forests, jungles, deserts, lakes, rivers, wetlands, and plains have formed and vanished endlessly throughout the history of life on our planet. That natural process has led to the extinction of many species, as well as to the rise of many species. We have no idea of which species will adapt to the consequences of today's global warming, but we have more than just an environmental responsibility to respect the natural existence of other species. We also have a natural biological imperative to survive.

Our survival can be enhanced in many ways if we seize the opportunity to produce more fresh water, irrigate unused desert land, and create jobs, hope, stability, and improved security for many people in lands that are now depleted of natural resources. In the long run, if we do nothing with all that water flowing into the oceans, we'll see increasing population pressures and competition for safe, dry land lead to more warfare and strife between impoverished peoples.

Is the continued survival of desert turtle and lizard habitats worth the human misery and suffering that could otherwise be avoided?

3 Comments:

Anonymous Stever said...

For the longest time I was of the same opinion. The earth warms up, then it cools, warms up again and cools. Breath in, breath out. And indeed it does. And we are certainly in the warm up stage and have been since the last ice age 10,000 years ago.

BUT, I saw something that has now alarmed me greatly. I just saw Al Gore's flick. In it he presents various graphs on measurable trends in temperature and CO2 levels. Oen chart in particular presents (supposedly) 600,000 years of data. I assume taken from ice core samples in the Arctic and Antarctica, or something. It shows a pretty noticeable oscillation back and forth between past ace ages and warm periods. These oscillations appear to be bound in a range.

We have been in the upswing of the cycle since the last ice age. Which incidentally coincides, more or less, with the advent of agriculture. And at about what should be near the top of the cycle again, give or take 1000 years, humans enter the petroleum age with the dawn of the industrial revolution.

They are CO2 level graphs which have a lagging correlation with temperature. Then he shows the same chart with some more recent data added to it. CO2 levels have broken out of the range set for the past 600,000 years. Broke out like a rocket. Broke out like a stock does when it finally moves through a resistance or support level (Day traders will know what I am talking about). The current peak is twice as high as all the previous peaks, which were all at about the same level (resistance).

Now temperature follows CO2 more or less in lock step, except there is a bit of a delay. We know where the CO2 is but we have not yet seen the temperature effects. That is scary. My jaw dropped when I saw it.

We are breaking out of a long held pattern. Who knows what the new pattern will be, or become while it searches for its new range.

I can't find any links to those charts, or similar representations of it online. I'll keep searching and If I do I'll repost here.

See the damn movie if you have not.

5:05 AM  
Blogger Michael Martinez said...

600,000 years is a mere blip in time, given the Earth's age. The current Ice Age is more than 600,000 years old.

It's these "partial data" arguments, which tell only part of the story, that make such propaganda as the movie so dangerous.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Editor Theorist said...

Well said, Michael.

This hysterical fear-mongering over climate change is dishonest in one major way: the emphasis on _urgency_.

Whatever the reality about the causes and responses to climate change turn-out to be, climate change is slow moving - especially wrt. any chance of reversing climate change.

The frantic sense of urgency being whipped up is just politics. It is imposing the short - a few months or years - timescale of human elections on the long - decades and centuries - timescale of the earth.

10:21 AM  

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