Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Global Warming is Much Trickier Than You May Think

Global Warming has been the topic of discussion in U.S. and World Politics for the past few decades. As most would say, you can make a case for each side for a variety of reasons, but in the end you cannot pinpoint the exact causality of global warming. In Al Gore’s documentary, he reiterates this idea of a human-created global warming problem. Human causing carbon dioxide emissions are the leading cause of the heating up of the Earth. Although human’s are emitting more and more carbon waste into the atmosphere, one must first look out the outside factors that make up some of the carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Dating back to Precambrian times, the Earth has undergone several heating and cooling periods. According to a NASA study done, the heating and cooling periods of Earth’s history from the first signs of life until today, Earth’s cycles saw a change in temperature of about 10 degrees Celsius. This leads one to believe that Earth may just be going through a natural cycle. Other skeptics say that a change in ocean current could be causing Greenland’s ice sheets to melt away and break off. In a study done on Greenland showed a change in size and volume of Greenland over a 5 year period. In that 5 year period, the center of the ice sheet grew in size while the outside edge decreased in overall size. Some say that this does not account for the snow accumulation over that 5 year period just the overall size of the entire country. This leads one to believe that the causes of global warming are more tricky than previously expected. Volcanic activity could also play a big role in global warming. All over the globe, volcanos release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and in any particular eruption it could send huge amounts of these gases into the atmosphere. It seems to me though, that volcanic activity has been seemingly less violent in the recent past than in much earlier times. Other global warming scientists feel that global warming is simply a natural mechanism that occurred after the last ice age 10,000 years ago. The most interesting natural cause of global warming is the idea that our sun plays a role in this warming process. The amount of cosmic rays that hit Earth could play a role in the warming of its surface. There could be periods in Earth’s evolution through time when there is more solar radiation and sparticles(tiny particles in space) hitting the Earth causing them to absorbed by the Earth, subsequently heating it up. As one looks into the idea of global warming, one can see many examples of naturally caused global warming, but at the same time we cannot forget the human factor.

This is the first time in Earth’s history where humans have used its planet on such a massive scale. As we mine for more and more natural gas and oil to meet our ever growing consumption needs, we are releasing more and more CO2 emissions that ever before. At the same time, these refineries are putting the CO2 back into the ground or building algae fields where this CO2 “eater” absorbs the carbon emission right out of the air. These new programs have accounted for taking 88 million cars off the road in America. At the same time, places all over the world are using more fossil fuels to push their economy further in places like China. Because of oil demand in China, the global oil price is reflected in America where we are now extracting and producing more natural gas and oil than in the last 8 years. During this period, we have had crazy fluctuations of weather patterns on a short term scale. Could there be a pattern between short term events and a long term climate pattern that are linked to the explosion of fossil fuels and human population and consumption, or are we part of a bigger climate cycle that happens regardless of human interaction or intervention. Could humans use innovation to take this planet and humanity to new worldly heights where we can find a perfect atmospheric balance that maintains a good environment for all to enjoy, or will natural or man-made causes be the overwhelming cause of the heating of this planet?

Barry, L. Patrick. “Earth's Fidgeting Climate.” October 20th 2000. Nasa News. April 12th 2012.
"The Science Channel." A Documentary on CO2 Absorbing Technology. I watched this during the first week of April 2012, and it may still be on "On Demand"

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