Over the past week on the radio, I've been listening to reports on the Copenhagen meetings which are trying to deal with Global Warming. Also last week, the EPA said that Global Warming is harmful to your health.
So I thought to myself: Hey, it's time for another informative email, maybe explaining global warming to those of us who really don't know what is going on."
So here goes.
In 14 hundred and 92, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Columbus said that the earth (or the world) was round. He was right about that. And when he sailed the ocean it might have been blue.
When we look at maps, globes, photographs, of the topography of the earth, we see blue (for the water although in many places it is now black or green with muck), we see the white snow
-capped mountain ranges, we see the red desert dryness.
But this isn't the earth's boundary. Earth doesn't stop at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and the top of the earth is not Victory Boulevard. The Earth is round, is situated inside a king-sized Ziploc bag, which is also round (without the zip). Now this Ziploc bag makes a seal around the Earth, and establishes Earth's outer boundary.. It holds in what's on our side of it, and holds out what's on the outside of it.
The space between the dirt that we call earth and the outer limits of the Ziploc bag, if you will, is filled in with what is sometimes called our atmosphere. (There are lots of other words like stratosphere, used to describe the various layers which cumulatively, for purposes of this discussion, we will call the atmosphere. I am not pretending that this is a scientific thesis).
Some stuff does break through, like meteors. If you have any trouble understanding or believing this concept think Space Ship Challenger, that evaporated or exploded or whatever while attempting to enter the earth's atmosphere, or pass through the outer circle or break through the Ziploc bag.
You know, we used to think that if we throw something into the ocean (this also applies to rivers, lakes, streams, pond's, etc.) that it will just disappear.
For centuries, industry thought that it would be okay to just dump their waste into the water- courses, because the oceans were so vast and all connected that the "pollution" or industrial waste products, or whatever you want to call them, would be diluted enough so that it wouldn't matter. It would just dissipate.
(I try to explain to my 16-year-old granddaughter that when you throw trash out of your car window, it is going to land somewhere and be ugly somewhere, but it is very difficult trying to explain anything to 16-year-olds!!!)
But now we know better. Now we know that the oceans and rivers do not dilute the toxins. Instead, we have polluted the oceans and rivers and water steams and ground water and drinking water. (Many industries know it but don't care, and continue to pollute the world!) (Washington lobbyists will have you believe that it's in our best interest to allow them to continue polluting the earth for it creates jobs).
Now the air outside is sort of the same as the ocean in terms of vastness, except the atmosphere (cumulatively) is bigger.
Same thing with the air. We think that the emissions from our car just go up in the air and are diluted in the air. That the bad stuff just dissipates.
WRONG: They do not just keep going up. They get trapped in the atmosphere (cumulatively) and hang out.
Now here is the problem.
We use a lot of electricity. Lots and lots.
Where does electricity come from?
Well, in places like in Pennsylvania there are mines where miners dig out coal from coal mines. The coal is eventually put into railroad cars and shipped to where they make the electricity. The amount of coal used is so much that the railroad shipments never end. It is non-stop railroad cars full of coal going to the power plants. 24/7.
Now what they do is they take the coal, and they burn it in huge ovens (like the furnaces or boilers where we make heat). These coal burners then heat water that makes steam that makes the turbines go up and down, creating the electricity that then flows through the electric wires on the telephone poles and underground in the cities creating the power we use to run our computers and television sets and coffee pots and lights, etc.
Now there is this never-ending fire cooking the coal. Next time you drive across the Goethals Bridge at night, notice the "smoke stacks" releasing that white smoke that doesn't dissipate into the air but gets trapped in the atmosphere. At the foot of the Goethals Bridge is a power station. By the way, ever notice the smell at the bottom of the bridge, or when you first get onto the NJ Turnpike?
Coal, and Oil (including gasoline) are what are known as fossil fuels.
So heat rises. So where does it go? Into the atmosphere.
So what's the problem?
The problem is that the Earth is a finite space- from the dirt to the top of the Ziploc bag. Granted it's a big Ziploc bag. Over the past million years or so, it remained fairly constant, since the ice age. There was some change in the climate, but it was slow.
Over the past 40 years, since the advent of the 2 cars in every garage life style, and now the industrialization of the Third World (China, India, Vietnam, etc.) what has happened is that the rates of changes are doubling every 10 years or so. And the rates of changes are increasing all of the time.
The temperature in the big Ziploc bag is rising, because we are creating so much heat from burning all of that coal and oil. As a result, the ice caps are melting, the icebergs are melting. In Alaska and Iceland and Denmark and Canada, there is land and water where there used to be ice. In El Alto, Bolivia, the glaciers melted, and they are now running out of water. A
World Bank report concluded last year that climate change would eliminate many glaciers in the Andes within 20 years, threatening the existence of nearly 100 million people.
The ice has to go somewhere, so it goes into the oceans. The water level of the oceans rises, so places like New Orleans and Venice, Italy, and the SSolomon Islands, Manhattan and Staten Island could disappear.
As the temperature of the ocean rises, many species have died off. Some of the species that died off were responsible for protecting the coral reefs, and some of them ate some of the pollution. Certain sea life are not able to reproduce as well. We are seeing the end of many species of fish and animals, however this is a natural phenomenon anyway, survival of the fittest. Or is it?
The problem with global warming is that the changes are occurring too rapidly, so that in the natural sequence of things, the next group of fish/animals/plant/vegetation don't have a chance to evolve naturally.
The changes are occurring faster and faster. The rate of melting of ice bergs keep doubling. This is the microcosm, the best example of the problem in a nutshell.
The world is getting smaller, and the world is also becoming more industrialized. More of the world is now asking for energy, as new parts of the world discover and are first getting electricity, and washing machines, toasters, and cars.
One of the issues in the global warming debate, is who is going to pay, and how much each of the countries is going to cut its consumption of energy: The industrialized countries like the US who have caused all of the problems in the first place and use so much energy? Or the newly industrialized countries that in the world right now, who are beginning to use so much energy (India and China).
My purpose of this email was not to place blame, or to criticize anyone group, because it isn't necessary.
My purpose is to help spread awareness of the issues.
What is necessary is an acknowledgment that it is a problem, and that it is occurring.
Imagine you were living in a tent, or a Ziploc Bag, and there is a heater burning logs or coal or gas, or whatever.
Eventually you would get too hot,. you would need to shut off the heater. Well the Earth is a huge bubble with a heater in it. And it is getting too hot. But we are not able to turn off the heater, because the world is begging for more energy, pump up the volume- turn up the heat. Our thirst for energy is insatiable.
So what is the answer?
......................to be continued