Wednesday, November 7, 2012

But for humans

Ignored in the presidential elections - global warming and climate change and its causes, effects and solutions. It would seem that New York Mayor Bloomberg tried to make it an issue when he announced that he was supporting Obama because of the need to address the issue.

The media of all persuasions ignored the issue - why? Why does it seem like a hot-button issue? It would seem that even a prudent offer to establish a presidential commission to study the issue was feared.

Given plate tectonics, volcanoes, and hot spots like Yellowstone Caldera it is arguable that humans are not necessarily the causative factor in global warming effects like glacier melting. Can we say that but for the humans there would be no melting?

It has only been in the recent years that mankind has acquired the tools necessary to begin analyzing causes and effects. Man has been extant for a small, small (relatively micro) slice of time. Can it be that we have affected the earth so dramatically in such a small time slice?

Can we determine that humans are substantively responsible, and if so, can we determine what is to be done? Are there steps the global community, and it has to be a global effort, can take to stop or reverse what is being touted as the coming disastrous effects?

One wonders if we just don't think too much of ourselves in assuming that it is us that is in control of the earth. Tail wagging the dog? Is it true that it is only in the last century or so that the earth started warming?

"Our planet seems destined for a hot future! But is it really? Or are we simply experiencing a natural variation in Earth's climate cycles that will return to "normal" in time?"
But why is there failure to even attempt to address the issue much less to present solutions?

See this excerpt from the NASA article Earth's Fidgeting Climate:
"Correlations between rising CO2 levels and global surface temperatures suggest that our planet is on a one-way warming trend triggered by human activity. Indeed, studies by paleoclimatologists reveal that natural variability caused by changes in the Sun and volcanic eruptions can largely explain deviations in global temperature from 1000 AD until 1850 AD, near the beginning of the Industrial Era. After that, the best models require a human-induced greenhouse effect.
In spite of what may seem persuasive evidence, many scientists are nonetheless skeptical.
They argue that natural variations in climate are considerable and not well understood. The Earth has gone through warming periods before without human influence, they note. And not all of the evidence supports global warming. Air temperatures in the lower atmosphere have not increased appreciably, according to satellite data, and the sea ice around Antarctica has actually been growing for the last 20 years.
It may surprise many people that science -- the de facto source of dependable knowledge about the natural world -- cannot deliver an unqualified, unanimous answer about something as important as climate change."
We have come to expect and believe that science has the answers. But at best they have the talking points. Like it or not causation and solutions have a political component that cannot be ignored. A discussion on the global political stage is needed, although the US could and should be offering the leadership.

Science is not infallible. Theories are posited based upon facts as they exist at a certain point, but fortunately science provides the flexibility to change as the facts change. And science offers political leadership data uninfluenced by religion and politics.

This from the NASA is spot on:
"Most scientists agree that no single piece of data will likely resolve the global warming debate. In the end, the best we can expect is a scientific consensus based on a preponderance of evidence."
We best get that scientific consensus laid out in front of the global political leadership forthwith.

But I have to admit to wondering whether the items we cannot ever control, e.g., plate tectonics, (cause of earthquakes, volcano eruptions) will deliver changes to earth that effectively starts us from scratch.

Thus worrying about the effects of climate change may be an exercise in futility.

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