Friday, November 14, 2014

                                            Climate Change- Fact or Fiction?

Disclaimer - I'm not a Scientist but I do have a masters degree in Geology and I've got a basic understanding of the chemistry involved as well as the climate history of our planet. Fact number one is this: Climates change and always will change whether we continue to exist or not. Fact number two is that without climate change there would be no life as we know it on the planet. Fact number three is that Carbon Dioxide is Nature's chemical buffer. It has a major influence of the acidity of our oceans and atmosphere.

The climate history of our planet reveals a fascinating chain of events which eventually created enough oxygen in the atmosphere for life to come out of the ocean and live on land. Originally our planet was extremely hot. As it cooled down it began to solidify into layers some of which were less dense than others. Eventually these layers began to float around - migrating from one climate zone to another. For example at one time half of North America was below the Equator. Another example is that the Sub Saharan Desert was at one time a tropical rain forest. Our orbit around the Sun is elliptical and the path of that ellipse changes periodically over millions of years-thus changing the portions of the planet which receive the most  heat from the Sun. Our planet also wobbles in predictable patterns of time which also has an effect on the distribution of heat.  We've also been bombarded by numerous asteroids over the ages which threw up clouds of dust blotting out the Sun and affecting temperatures on Earth. Finally, there have been numerous volcanic eruptions which also send clouds of tiny particles into the atmosphere with resulting changes in the climate.

Our planet has endured numerous ice ages over millions of years. There have been times when almost the entire planted was covered by ice. Many people aren't aware of the fact that we're still in the the grips of the most current major ice age- as proven by the fact that an entire continent is buried under a mile of ice at our South Pole and our North Pole has still has permanent iced over areas. Additionally, we still have glaciers in some of our higher mountain peaks. Those glaciers are mostly the remains of what is called the "Little Ice Age" which occurred oddly enough during the so called "dark ages" from about 1450 to about 1750. Interestingly enough some scientists believe that the Little Age was caused by melt water from Greenland which may have cut off the warm Gulf Stream from the South. In other words it's possible that global warming could actually start another Ice Age. Modern civilization as we know it blossomed just as the Little Ice Age drew to a close. Coincidence or not- who knows? There is some thought by Anthropologists that the Little Ice Age and it's retreat stimulated human experimentation,  scientific advances and the development of new technologies.

Now that we've hopefully established that Climates by their very nature change, whether humans exist of not, we find ourselves asking whether our activities are contributing to the well documented temperature changes we're currently witnessing. Many people are in strong denial that human activity could cause climate change.
That denial is so strong that one can get the impression that they take such charges personally. That's  probably due to the fact that they fail to realize that human activities can produce the same type of atmospheric and oceanic pollution as a volcano or an asteriod. This brings us to the basic point. Our planet isn't able to distinguish between the effects of human activity, or volcanic activity, or changes in our orbit path around the Sun.  After all, Carbon Dioxide is Carbon Dioxide. We're part of Nature and part of the natural forces of the Universe. We're not separate from Nature. We rose from the dust by natural processes and everything we do,or produce,or use, is part of that same process. The difference is that we have the ability to minimize the effect of our activities on the environment whereas volcanoes, earth quakes, and asteroids do not.


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