The biggest obstacle to understanding climate change is that global warming gets all of the attention. The warming aspect is just one aspect of the larger picture.
I am not the most qualified climate change analyst, so take my words with a grain of alcohol (trust me, that’s the best way to take me pretty much all the time).
I see Climate Change as a four-prong issue. These are the four members of the Climate Change band, as first explained in last week’s slack chat with John.
1. Global Warming. This is the actual temperature rise. The public sees a couple of degrees and thinks it’s no big deal, but that’s not how it works. If the ocean temperature goes up a couple of degrees, everything dies. And the balance at freezing moves up and down in fractions of a degree. One degree of temperature rise could mean several hundred miles of coastline melt, and several hundred feet of mountain ice caps. The man-made factors are usually summed up in something called the greenhouse effect; basically, we pump methane and CO2 into the atmosphere in quantities that throw the heat dissipation process out of whack.
We have ice ages and tropical ages, of course, so the public justifiably sees small changes as simple ups and downs. They may be right. But the baseline temperature is now significanlly higher than it was before we started burning coal and oil, and before cow farming. The greenhouse effect isn’t a myth; it’s as real as anything we can observe and measure.
2. Deforestation. Trees regulate land temperature along with waterways. Deforestation isn’t JUST cow farming, but that’s most of it. The rain forest has gone through some horrible things over the past few decades, as cow farmers and the thugs who love them kill anyone and everyone in their way in order to cut down the forest and replace it with cow farms.
To understand the value of the rain forest, compare the climate around the Amazon to the climate in the Middle East. Because that’s what it would become if you remove the temperature- and rainfall-regulating trees and replace them with grass and methane-spewing cows. Trees cut down on the temperature variances by storing heat during the day and moisture during the night; as they dissipate one and pull in the other, they cut down on the extremes in the surrounding areas.
3. Overfishing. Studies show that roughly 90 percent of the Pacific Ocean garbage island is made up of fishing nets. Without a global governing body protecting the oceans, coastal nations (The US, China and Japan in particular,) have been fishing the Pacific ocean to within an inch of its life.
Fish used to be cheap, then a little pricier, then actually expensive. Fish houses used to be like burger joints. Now they are gourmet restaurants. The only change? The price of fish, because of how much harder it is to find good fishing in the Pacific Ocean.
4. Resource Depletion. If we use all the oil, the Earth will replace it — in a few million years. Using oil for cars when we have other options is insane.
Think of oil like a bag of halloween candy, about a month after Halloween.
We already ate the snickers bars and most of the other chocolate. Fracking is literally us digging into the bottom of the bag, trying to find the rest of the chocolate. Oilsands — like the Canadian stuff, the so-called Keystone Pipeline stuff — are the dum dum suckers and jolly ranchers.
We use petroleum for tons of other things. What happens when we run out? What happens when oil is so expensive — like fish is now — because it’s so hard to get to, when we’ve sucked all the surface oil dry, fracked the hell out of the rest, and drained the oil sands?
And it’s not just oil. Coal mining … compare mining to using meth. Look around West Virginia, Pennsylvania, at the strip mining. Read up on acid rain, where the smoke stack exhaust rains down on the people living downwind of the plants. Go drink the water in Flint, Michigan. Mining has a lot of the same effects on the Earth as meth on your teeth.
Are there solutions? Sure.
1. We can fix carbon (separate it from the rest of the air), we can reconvert plastic to petroleum, and we can stop using oil and use solar, wind and steam power in its place. We can build batteries out of recycled tires and other refuse, and use the stored power to balance the grid.
2. Trees grow back, but the demand for cow meat is dangerously high. Beef is an incredibly inefficient food source; sooner or later, we have to either learn how to farm in space or eat something else. I’ve seen some lab stuff done recently that shows promise that we can actually grow meat without cutting down all the forests, but I don’t understand it enough to explain any of it.
3. We need a worldwide governing body to manage resources, including the oceans. Net fishing desperately needs oversight, to prevent overfishing as well as stop the practice of discarding the nets. Better material for the nets — making them more permanent as well as more valuable, so they can’t be discarded — would be a positive step.
4. We only use about two percent of the sun’s ambient power. Technology is advancing, but it will advance a lot faster with public backing. We got a man on the moon in less than a generation. We can get the sun to power our cars, homes and businesses if we make it a priority.
Can we fix it? Yes. Smart people are the most valuable resource in the human race. And they are working on all of the Climate Change issues. They just need public support. Pubic faith, public belief in the need for their work.
Can we wait? I don’t know. But if you found out you had cancer, would you wait until you started puking up blood before you took steps? Of course not.
Ask yourself who is denying it. Do they have a conflict of interest? Of course they do. The oil men who keep telling us that climate change is a hoax … Of course they deny climate change. They deny it like a little kid denies it’s dark when it’s time to come in and take a bath. They don’t want it to be dark, so they’ll keep claiming it’s still light out, even after they can’t see the hands in front of their faces.
The oil men aren’t going to stop denying Climate Change, because they flat-out don’t want to believe it’s true.
It’s up to us to stop believing them.
Should we freak out, then? No. No. Nothing done to date has caused permanent damage. The resources to prevent permanent damage already exist. All we need to do is not actively try to deny it’s existence. Just let green tech grow naturally, and it will. Business is always business; I’m sure the dinosaurs had great businesses going before it turned out that evolution had passed them by. The smart oil men have already made changes to be ready for green tech. And the dumb ones will fill the tar pits like all evolutionary failures do.
So don’t be a Chicken Little; the sky is not falling. But don’t stick your fingers in your ears, either. Chores need to get done and you have to balance the checkbook balanced to keep the Earth-hold budget under control. Thanks for reading.