Colossal stupidity is always an unintended consequence of unbridled love affairs between Ego and Arrogance. Human history is replete with evidence of this sad fact.
This past week it was cold and snowy in parts of California where it has rarely been cold and snowy. “Global warming is just a lot of tree-hugger crap,” said Michael Rose, a 59-year-old retiree.
Mr. Rose’s contempt for tree-huggers, and most other things environmental, was obvious. When I asked him what evidence he had to support his point of view, he quoted some things he heard while listening to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.
I got the impression that Mr. Rose considers both of these men to be the final word regarding any topic they choose to discuss. If they say it, it MUST be true he seemed to think.
I tried to explain to Mr. Rose that I was unaware that either of these men were climatologists or had enough scientific understanding of the topic to render an educated opinion.
This is not an editorial concerning the pontifications of either of these entertainment personalities. I think they’re both very astute at what they do, which seems to be reporting speculation as news.
And, millions of people enjoy this type of programming because they keep tuning in… day in day out… night after endless night.
I’ve listened to both. I disagree with Limbaugh much of the time. As for Hannity, I’d as soon castrate myself with a jagged-edged tuna-can lid—without anesthesia—than even hear his voice.
Cable TV, talk-radio, and a few clueless politicians have reduced this topic to nothing more than innuendo-driven nonsense based purely on varying degrees of emotional investment. Facts no longer seem to matter.
Both sides are now obsessed with proving the other side WRONG. And, they’re intent on doing so, even if they have to manipulate scientific fact to suit their respective opinions.
People with 3-digit IQs are NOT debating whether the planet is becoming warmer. It IS!
The peeing contest concerns the role that humans have played in accelerating the process; how much was, and is, preventable; how soon we’ll feel its full impact; and how devastating it will be.
A long time ago, so long ago that not even John McCain can remember (200-million years ago), it was quite uncomfortable around here… weather-wise, that is.
There were NO humans back then. Humans couldn’t have lived then because atmospheric carbon dioxide ruled, making it all but impossible to breathe. Also, the oceans were about 200-feet higher. And, it was GREEN!
Then things began to change. Algae, bacteria, plankton, and plants began to photosynthesize, removing much of the carbon dioxide from the air and replacing it with oxygen.
The plants decayed, embedding a whole lot of future windfall profits in the Earth’s crust. Oil, gas, coal, and a host of other goodies were born.
Greenhouse gases subsided enough to let the planet cool down and cause the water levels to drop. The heat index dropped considerably, paving the way for us humans.
Of course, it would take eons for humans to evolve. And, even after they did, it would take another couple of million years for them to become technologically savvy enough to realize what “windfall” profits even were.
Once this happened, though, things (ecologically speaking) began to go downhill, at a snail’s pace, initially, but gradually accelerating to where we are today.
Many years ago, my mother told me that drinking too much beer killed brain cells. It was her way of scaring me—we were Catholics.
It didn’t work, though. I told her I would keep drinking beer until I began to forget. Then I would stop.
We seem to apply the same simple-minded logic to sound warnings about climate change. This is a mistake. Its consequences potentially catastrophic and probably are irreversible.
Without a doubt, atmospheric greenhouse gases are critical to our survival. Without them, our world would be much colder. Most of it would be frozen and lifeless.
However, nature sets the rules as to the proper mix, not humans. If we create too great an imbalance, Mother Nature will show her displeasure. Planet Earth does NOT need humans.
In the cosmic sense, life is life. To Mother Nature, humans are not all that special. Barring some natural catastrophe, the planet will go on for the remainder of its natural life cycle, whether we’re aboard or not.
Earth has evolved though repetitive cycles of glacial periods, interrupted by seemingly briefer periods of warm-ups.
For about the past 10,000 years we’ve been in an interglacial period that has seen an average global temperature consistency of about 60 degrees F. In other words, it’s been comfortable for us to cultivate the lands and build our civilizations.
I’ve not been able to find a cosmic rulebook that says this has to continue. It probably won’t. It definitely won’t if we keep trying to fool Mother Nature.
Normal carbon dioxide content, measured in parts per million by volume, during glacial periods (over the 400,000 years for which we have accurate measurements) remained around 260.
During periods of interglacial warm-up, the levels have tended to increase a bit. But, they never went beyond the 300 level.
This changed about 2,000 years ago; levels began going up faster. And, over the past 50 years, the levels have surpassed the 370 mark. Given this rate, we’ll soon see levels significantly higher.
Humans have absolutely no control over natural-occurring global warming. Our distance from the Sun varies over a cycle of 100,000 years. This affects global temperature.
The planet’s tilt also varies over a 40,000-year cycle. This affects global temperature even more. So does Earth’s wobble.
When temperatures go up, snowcaps melt. Snowcaps reflect heat because they’re white. Less snow, less heat reflection, more dark ground, more heat absorbed, more snow melting… get it?
Carbon dioxide is not the only problem; there’s the matter of methane. This is a byproduct of animal and human life. It’s naturally occurring. If there’s life, there’s methane.
Gas hydrates trap both carbon dioxide and methane beneath arctic ice. As this ice begins to melt, the process releases even more greenhouse gases. More global warming!
Only over the last 100 years, however, have we seen greenhouse emissions leaving the 300 parts per million by volume and edge upward, knocking on door to 500.
This is unprecedented. We’re in the realm of the unknown here. Denying that we’ve contributed is just plain silly.
Volcanoes can easily match human contribution to carbon emissions. But the last time one of sufficient magnitude hit Earth was about 250-million years ago.
During the Permian period, a Siberian eruption put enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to raise global temperatures by 10 degrees F, extinguishing almost all life at the time.
It has not happened at that magnitude since. My point is that human contribution, ALONE, is now reaching an emissions level sufficient to raise global temperatures in the range of 7 to 10 degrees F.
If we continue, it’s simply a question when. Can mass human extinction happen again as a result?. Maybe. We certainly hope not! But, as diligently as we search, evidence to the contrary is quite scarce.
According to legitimate scientists, the five most likely scenarios for the possible extinction of humans are: a super-volcano, ecological collapse, gamma-ray burst, comet collision, and meteor mash-up.
Humans have the technology to minimize the threats of comet collisions and meteor mash-ups. Gamma-ray bursts near enough to our galaxy to wipe us out are not likely enough to lose any sleep worrying over them.
Super-volcanoes are quite another matter. They’ve occurred with some regularity since Earth’s beginning. So, their occurrence is not a matter of if, but rather WHEN.
The last one happened 75,000 years ago and only an estimated 10,000 humans survived, although I have no idea who did the counting.
And, there is one right here in the United States under Yellowstone National Park. It last blew about 600-thousand years ago. But, there’s been recent shaking going on in the area and scientists are watching.
Ecological collapse, particularly over the past 100 or so years is what I’ve been referring to throughout this article.
Consider that dinosaurs roamed this planet for 150-million years before a natural disaster killed them off. And they, as far as I know, did not drive cars or require air-conditioning.
So far, humans have been around only 2-million years, but it’s been only a 150-years that we’ve abused this planet like we have somewhere else to go.
We MUST break up the love affair between our egos and our arrogance. At the rate we’re going, I don’t give us much chance of lasting another 200-years, let alone another 150-million.
At my age, I’m going to be dead, anyway. But what about you? Your young children and grandchildren?
Joe Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. You may comment on his column by clicking here.