Updated Climate Data


What Climate Change Means
by Dean Jacques

A lot of people have trouble understanding the cause of climate change - and for good reason. It is a complicated subject. That is no reason to shirk from it and just hope it goes away. The best course of action, and the only effective one left it turns out, demands that each of us get involved.

I recently listened to a 6 hour lecture series on the subject, and was amazed by all the indisputable scientific evidence we now have. There simply is no good excuse for denial anymore. I will try to summarize what I learned.

Carbon dioxide, the main culprit of climate change, has a different opacity than other gases in the air. It inhibits the reflection of incoming solar energy from returning to space. This disrupts the normal balance that regulates Earth's climate. The more carbon in the air, the more heat gets trapped. This begins a self-sustaining chain-reaction that increases global temperatures to dangerous levels.

The problem is that carbon takes a while to be recycled from the atmosphere. Water vapor recycles from evaporation to clouds to rain in about a week. It takes carbon about 5 years. That in itself would not be bad, except half this carbon gets stuck in the recycling process, and returns to the atmosphere. It can take several hundred to over 1,000 years to completely disappear. That is a very slow process.

In 1860, global temperatures started to be recorded. In 1950, the recordings were expanded and refined. They show an unprecedented increase of carbon in the last century that coincided with the Industrial Age. It continues to climb.

For comparative data, scientists drilled bore-holes in the arctic to identify and measure gases from hundreds of thousands of years ago. Other sources include with layers of coral reefs and lake sediments, and even ancient tree rings. They all supported the same conclusions. The Earth is rapidly warming in an unnatural speed and manner.

Scientists differentiated carbon from volcanoes because it does not contain isotopes. Measuring the ratio between these isotopes and fossil fuel carbon shows that the vast increase of recent history are the result of human activity. (We produce 30 billion tons; volcanoes only 500,000 million.)

The more carbon in the atmosphere, the more the warming effect increases, which will take centuries to remove. The hotter it gets, the more water vapor forms as clouds, which also serves as a green house gas. This process is now underway, and cannot be remedied during our lifetimes. All we can do at this point is slow the process down to avoid the worst results.

Some politicians are naturally concerned about the economic ramifications of corrective action, which is projected to cost 1% of the world's economy. They ignore the financial impact of not responding, which is estimated to be 20%.

The more carbon in the air, the more heat accumulates. Hotter temperatures cause more cloud formations, which is a major greenhouse gas. This process has started and cannot be remedied during our lifetimes. All we can do now is slow it down to and hope to find ways to stop it completely.

Climate factors are so complex and interconnected, it is impossible to know all the bad that will happen. We do know that warmer oceans contribute to major weather events, which will cause extensive property damage and loss of life. Forest fires will be more intense and frequent. The rise of sea levels due to melting ice will force human migrations. Some species are already threatened by a rise in ocean acidity. What we don't know is what will happen on the microbial level. What will happen to algae colonies that produce most of the oxygen that we breathe?

Although implementing new EPA standards is a positive step, much more needs to be done. Political gridlock prevents the federal government from responding as it should. We citizens have to mobilize ourselves. 320 million people in the U.S. alone, conserving energy, can make a sizable difference.

We begin by consuming less energy.

  • Be aware of your energy usage.
  • Cut corners when you can.
  • Shut off unnecessary lights.
  • Moderate your indoor temperature control.
  • Use energy-saving light bulbs.
  • Insulate your home or business.
  • Have an energy audit and follow its advice.
  • Avoid unnecessary travel. Use mass transit.
  • Whatever vehicle you drive, keep it well-tuned with correctly inflated tires.
  • Make sure your next vehicle is energy efficient.

Consider adopting solar energy for your home or business. The initial investment results in long-term profitability, perfect for retirement planning.

Speak out. Motivate others to follow your example. Contact your representatives and demand effective action.

On the national level, there is no silver bullet that will solve the problems of climate change. We need to combine a variety of actions, such as replacing fossil fuel with either natural gas, nuclear energy, wind turbines, bio-fuels or solar energy. We have to stop deforestation, and plant more trees to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

If we do all these things now, we may be able to curtail the growth of carbon increase at its present level. This will buy us time to find and incorporate better solutions.

If you have questions about climate change, please take time to investigate the evidence yourself, which is available online. The consequences are too important to leave to uninformed opinion.

Dean Jacques






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