The eCycle Best team’s take on the “hot” issue of today:
Quit the pounding of breasts. It may not be our fault after all.
In the landscape of 21st century environmentalism, no other topic is as compelling and as current as Climate Change. It has become an all-purpose buzzword, whether employed by militant environmental activists of the sincerest intentions or corporations in desperate need to widen their profit margins through products that promise to reduce your carbon footprint, or drop your monthly bills, or feed you only in organic.
Many believe that is in our hands to make a change (You’re welcome, Gandhi). Maybe that’s why the green blogosphere is awash with people who wax poetic on the positivity of doing something good for the planet – for what specific benefit, we can only speculate. This I wrote about in a prior Examiner article, Save-the-Planet Revolution: As Arrogant as it is Humble.
The homo sapiens’ undiluted tendency to exaggerate their importance, and without any sign of future wearing off, has become full-blown interdisciplinary. It perhaps justifies the aggressive effort we put into green revolutions. Is it possible that, deep down our hearts, we feel responsible for how Mother Earth has turned out?
Whether or not this vanity serves some therapeutic purpose, a fair-minded person should lend himself some modicum of shame in the face of hard facts. Even in matters meteorological, we have not so far learned to depart ourselves from this self-sustaining hubris. Do humans really control the climate system, or put in a humbler frame, is the climate system super-sensitive to our behavior? How much of the heat we experience today is caused by human activity? And how much of it is effected by uncontrollable forces like cloud variations, pacific decadal oscillations, or the naturally recurring warming and cooling cycles that the planet has gone through millennia – even preceding our existence.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, carbon dioxide (CO2) is mankind’s biggest contribution to the greenhouse gases found in the Earth’s atmosphere. The Earth’s temperature retains its balance between solar energy and energy that is bounced back to the space. But in the United States alone, 82% of greenhouse gases emitted are carbon dioxide from humans and their activities like the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, transportation, and other industrial processes.
Climate scientists say that this combustion adds more CO2 in the atmosphere, and with the amount we’re generously awarding it, it is but expected to cause some alarm. In fact, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are observed to be at an all-time high for the past half-century. The atmosphere is composed of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% other gases. And it’s these other gases where greenhouse gases are subsumed, primarily carbon dioxide, water vapor, nitrous oxide, and ozone methane, all of which are naturally occurring.
For the record, the highly politicized Greenhouse Effect isn’t so bad after all. In Mark Maslin’s Global Warming: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press), the native greenhouse gases mixed in the atmosphere create a blanket, without which Earth’s temperature would be at -20 degree Celsius. That is cold. The presence of greenhouse gases accounts for the average temperature habitable to humans and animals – 35 degree Celsius. Yes, contrary to Al Gore’s apocalyptic imaginings, global warming as a result of greenhouse effect is one of Earth’s immutable physical laws.
However, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) affirms the proposition that global warming is mainly anthropogenic, or man-made. Using the body modeling project, an experiment that simulates calorie intake of the body to the heat the planet takes to warm as we experience it today, the IPCC arrives at its position with a statistical confidence that merits new policy goals and protocols in international communities. Fearing that we are fast approaching the tipping point of global warming, several countries have adopted these policies and the anthropogenic global warming has become a concept shared by almost everybody.
On the other hand, Dr. Roy Spencer, a climatologist and a former NASA scientist believes otherwise. Going against the big tides of fellow climate scientists who were certain of the role mankind plays in climate change, he forwarded the idea that the heat we experience today is not a result of global warming as understood by common people. In the question of whether the global temperature is rapidly rising, Dr. Spencer said that the year-to-year variability of global temperature is so large that there is warming and cooling happening at the same time.
It could be hotter in one place, but the temperature will be defrayed by another area’s cooling down. He also questions the methodology by which global temperatures are measured. He said that although it is considerably warmer now than it was 30-50 years ago, the magnitude of heating up is difficult to ascertain, due to two reasons: lack of long term measurements with thermometers and the possible corruption of data from non-climate factors.
From Dr. Spencer’s blog, he also posits that the polar ice caps in the Arctic Sea may pass as proof of warming, but not in the premise that it was caused by man. He said that the Arctic ice melts almost always every summer. What a lot of people don’t know is that the Antarctic sea ice has been forming as fast as Arctic ice has been melting over the last few decades.
Dr. Spencer also cites how nature is believed to absorb carbon dioxide at the same rate it is produced. Because nature is a guzzler of carbon dioxide, with 50% of the carbon dioxide used for photosynthesis, it sort of creates a balance. He advocates a new thesis for the strongest cause of global warming: Cloud variations.
In his controversial book, The Great Global Warming Blunder: How Mother Nature Fooled the World’s Top Scientists, his main argument for why people have been misled by IPCC’s scientific findings was that “cloud variations cause temperature variations, which give the illusion that the climate system is very sensitive to humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions.”
The rub was global warming alarmists are missing their causes and effects. While majority of the scientists attribute cause of cloud thinning to carbon dioxide saturation, Dr. Spencer hypothesized that it’s the natural variations in cloud cover that bring about warming. In fact, he was bold enough to say that even if global population doubles overnight, and so does the CO2 emissions, there would be no palpable effect at all.
He attacks the way assumptions are espoused in driving research about global warming. In fact, very little research has looked into the natural mechanisms of climate change. The ab initio assumption was that that everything was man-made. Period. And nobody seemed too brave to question that. This brave questioning served as the springboard and, at the same time, the hallmark of Dr. Roy Spencer’s own climate studies.
The truth is the debate still goes on, and with it its undiminishing intensity. The caveat here lies on both ends of the spectrum, and we shall never rest on them even for one moment: The call for passivity and the gangrenous belief of self-importance.