June 29, 2014

Be Your Own Climate Scientist: Just use your brain.

According to WeatherUnderground (dot com), 2013 graced the planet with 41 disasters on the 1-Billion dollar-plus scale. These included flooding, severe weather, hurricanes, winter weather, and drought. Before 2010, this disaster tally was only 18 events per year. As a scientist, broadly trained, I am getting tired of hearing college educated people tell me they think global warming is not real because their congressman, a think-tank created by coal companies, or their Pastor told them so last Sunday. 

Are greenhouse gasses bogus? Many businesses would like you to think so, and lobby to put doubt in your mind, but we cannot deal in "feelings" when it comes to such things. As a scientist who relies on chemistry and mathematical calculations to design experiments, and a former pilot who trusted physics to stay airborne and navigate hundreds of miles over featureless forests and bush, I just want the facts and numbers. 

So in this posting, let me give you the facts, and then you can decide about global warming and climate change for yourself. Wisdom is respected in most cultures, after all. I invite you to read and think for yourself. You are smart. Please read on...

Our biosphere is actually not very thick relative to the earth itself. The space shuttle only flew about 150 miles high (not thousands) and that was well outside the highest reaches of our atmosphere. If you took a small marble to represent the Earth and then pressed a strip of construction paper to its surface, you would be looking at a pretty good scale model of the part of our atmosphere that contains about 90% of all its gasses. That is where you and I live and breath; this is the BIOSPHERE.

This relatively thin layer of gasses is mostly nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (21%). That only leaves 1% to be made up of water vapor, CO2 (carbon dioxide), methane and ozone. The latter three all cause infrared radiation (HEAT) from the earth's surface to reflect and become trapped in our thin biosphere. So, with our current fast approach to 1 billion cars worldwide, all the fuels and other stuff we burn, and all the carbon-fixing capacity we destroy (forests), we should attempt to think with our own brains and understand that yes, it is very possible to increase that 1% of greenhouse gasses a wee bit. 

With these facts, here is my question of the century for you:  
Is our little man-made addition to the rise of green-house gasses meaningless for temperature change? 

Yes, no?

BEFORE you answer this question, I want you to also consider these additional facts that are not in dispute:

1. It is a fact of physics that our current, pleasant, average atmospheric temperature is 15°C, or 59° F. (Averaged for the entire globe over one year.)

2.  It is also a fact of physics that without the 1% of greenhouse gasses we have NOW, our average earth temperature would be -18°C, or - 0.4°F! So that little 1%, all of our current greenhouse gases, raises the Earth's temperature by 33 degrees Celcius or 59 degrees Farenheight, and this was required just for us Humans to survive on this planet. 

Now, that you know these facts too, how do YOU answer the question?
 Use your own brain, think for yourself, just as I trust you to come up with your own opinion. Right now, reading this little blog post: would our small man-made increase in green house gasses be meaningless for global temperature change, now that you know how strong an effect these gasses have? Just 1% has already made our earth 59 degrees Farenheight warmer.

Do you have to think a bit longer before dismissing the possibility that we affect our atmosphere? What I have tried to do for you with this little short posting is different from what a special interest representative does. That is, I have given you some scientific facts to work with, and not just told you what you should accept as the answer to global warming. Facts can be scary, because once you know them it is harder to hide from logical conclusions that may be inconvenient truths. But if you think about what your Children will face in the future and their Children, then you have to think about these problems. 

Good, then you are doing something that is very scary to some political leaders and some business interests: you are thinking with the brain God gave you. Its quite a handy organ sometimes. 

You can be your own scientist sometimes if you just have some facts at your disposal.

By the way, all the numbers above are easy to find facts that have been available in many books and other places for many years. You can find them on the internet these days at NASA, other online sites. You can even just use Google, Yahoo or Bing to find them. 

No comments: