A warming dose of realityDid you know that if the average global temperature rises by only 1 degree Nebraska will be a desert?
By: By Kevin Holten, The Dickinson Press
Did you know that if the average global temperature rises by only 1 degree Nebraska will be a desert?
That’s what scientists are saying and no, I’m not a liberal freak who wears plastic shoes and is bent out of shape about global warming. But I am a realist and whether the recent warming is caused by us or by nature, there is certainly enough evidence to show that something is happening. Nobody seems to deny that.
Now let’s face it, a little logic might lead one to assume that all of those combustible fuels that we burn could somehow have an adverse affect on the planet, especially when you drive on a Los Angeles freeway, which I recently did, and are bathed in carbon monoxide. Or when you fly from Denver to Dickinson late at night and see the North Dakota countryside dotted with natural gas “flames.”
Of course, we can’t just quit using combustible fuels because there are 7 billion of us who need to stay warm, stay cool, get to and from work, plow fields, haul freight, run factories, light skyscrapers, sail the seven seas, race stockcars and fry burgers
That’s why Nov. 28 might just be more important than the Civil War, 9/11, the Super Bowl, Van Halen reuniting, your bank account, who your son will marry, getting the laundry done, a few extra pounds, what you do for Christmas and Lindsay Lohan posing nude in Playboy magazine combined. Because that’s when the world’s governments will be getting together at an annual UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa to haggle over what to do next to prevent our demise.
Our government is proposing that we cut back on excessive energy use to limit the world’s rising temperatures to only 3 degrees. But if 1 degree makes Nebraska a desert what do you think 3 degrees is going to do?
The International Energy Agency’s chief ecologist recently said that, “If we do not have an international agreement whose effect is put in place by 2017, then the door will be closed forever.”
So how serious is this and what can we do? To some scientists, the seriousness of the situation can be broken down by degrees. For example, a 1- to 2-degree increase in average global temperatures will have people living in the Mediterranean thinking about relocating to places like North Dakota. And Miami, most of Manhattan, Central London, Bangkok, Bombay and Shanghai will be home to more fish than people and half of humanity will be moving to higher ground.
A 3-degree average temperature increase will, among other things, make new “super hurricanes” a common occurrence and lead to the destruction of Houston by 2045 along with Australia.
Farming and food production will go into an irreversible decline and saltwater will creep into rivers, poisoning groundwater.
Higher temperatures will mean greater evaporation, further drying out vegetation and soils, and a huge loss in the number of reservoirs. Meanwhile summer heat will kill between 8,000 and 15,000 elderly people in our cities and this is just the tip of the melting iceberg.
You and I can help by using less heat and air conditioning, changing to fluorescent light bulbs, driving less, using less hot water and planting trees. But what good does all that do if our friends in China and India, for example, don’t do the same thing? Not much, and that’s why Nov. 28 might be so important. Or is it?
Other scientists say that the modest global warming we have been experiencing is caused by a 50,000-year solar cycle interacting with the primary greenhouse gas (water vapor produced from the oceans and seas) and there is nothing we can do about it even if we wanted to, except write books and make money scaring people.
Our sun, which is millions of times larger than the Earth, emits more energy in a minute than all the human industrial activity in history, and there is nothing we can do to change solar activity. In fact, the Earth has been warming since about 1650 A.D., centuries before factories began regurgitating CO2.
Plus, our climate is continually changing and the cause is not and could not be CO2 because CO2 accounts for less than 3 percent of all greenhouse gases, and only 6 percent of atmospheric CO2 is produced by human activity.
That means that less than 2/1,000 of all CO2 is produced by us. So even if we wiped out every car, oil tanker, power plant, Harley, jetliner, can of hairspray, cow and human being from the face of the Earth, there would be no noticeable effect on global CO2 levels.
So when it comes to global warming, we might want to remember what Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University William Gray said in 2005: “Most meteorological research is funded by the federal government. And boy, if you want to get federal funding, you better not come out and say human-induced global warming is a hoax because you stand the chance of not getting funded.”
Holten is a freelance writer and cartoonist from Dickinson.