Friday, October 28, 2011

Chilling thought about Global Warming in Rochester, NY and beyond


Back in the eighties, scientists were beginning to go out in force to rule out the hypothesis of Global Warming (now Climate Change is more universally accepted for the crisis). They looked at Arctic and Antarctic ice cover, they measured carbon dioxide in ice cores 10,000 years old, they counted the size and amounts of tree rings, they started monitoring all sorts of things until there was enough evidence for the IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to state that Climate Change is occurring and most likely doing so because a human actions.

Since, the last decade or so there has accumulated overwhelming evidence that our climate is warming. Today no serious scientist denies that Climate Change is happening and doing so because we are putting carbon dioxide and methane and other greenhouse (GHG) into our atmosphere at an unprecedented rate.

But here is a (more) chilling thought from the US Department of Agriculture, those governmental folks who are charged with making sure our food production remains sustainable. In their report to our government and the IPCC about Climate Change and how it will be affecting our ability to produce food in the future, they say:

“All of the existing monitoring systems, however, have been put in place for other reasons, and none have been optimized specifically for detecting the effects and consequences of climate change. As a result, it is likely that only the largest and most visible consequences of climate change are being detected” The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resources, Water Resources, and Biodiversity | Executive Summary (pg 4)

In other words, the information that scientist have been gathering to access whether or not Climate Change is occurring, has come about with information that has not been actually designed to monitor Climate Change. Even with this ad hoc system—computer modeling, pulling out old farmer’s records, measuring water height and temperature, and the like—scientists can unequivocally say that our planet’s temperature is rising and we have to change our ways. This report also says because we have not designed and shaped our wholesale research around the world to monitor Climate Change we are probably only capturing the tip of the iceberg on what is really going on. We are flying blind.

Few things in this universe are as complicated as our climate system—as it involves the chaotic interrelationships of the sun’s heat, gases in our atmosphere, local heat and cold coming off lakes and oceans, winds, phenomenons like El Nino and La Nina —you name it. There’s so much we don’t know about Climate Change: health issues related to heat and vector-driven diseases like West Nile Virus. Though we know Climate Change is happening and can predict many things like extreme weather because warmer air holds more water vapor, there is a lot of doubt.

And strangely enough this doubt about a crisis that certainly is befalling us is being used as a reason not to believe that Climate Change is happening! Many in the Republican Party are using the inherit uncertainty about Climate Change predictions to further their case that we should ignore it altogether, which is strange when you think how diligent they were back in the 1950”s in following up on every possible doubt about a Communist threat in the Cold War. No ludicrous possibility was overlooked and no weapon to deal with it went unfunded.

All this is an absurd position for a species as intelligent as ours to be in. Why aren’t we scouring the planet to rule out Climate Change, as any competent doctor who do when a patient comes asking about an alignment? Why are we dismissing Climate Change in our media, not asking candidates questions on Climate Change, and not addressing Climate Change without making sure we know as much as we can about it?

If the majority of scientists around the world are saying that we are warming up the planet and there are going to be dire consequences, wouldn’t we the people want those scientists to have all the tools and resources they need to come back and tell us everything they could possible know so we can make a genuine effort to solve Climate Change? Considering the changes in extreme weather events, droughts, and water shortages we are already experiencing, shouldn’t we be putting out the kind of energy we did during World War II to combat a lethal enemy—instead of shooting ourselves in the foot with political gamesmanship”

Apparently not. We argue Climate Change, when we talk about it at all, with an appalling lack of specific information and use that as a sludge hammer to make our contrary points. We the people refuse to provide funds for our experts to do the kind of research needed to exactly describe our situation so we can make informed choices for our future. We seem for more interested in saving our ideology instead of finding out exactly what is going on in our world and addressing it.

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