Friday, January 05, 2007

Climate Change May Not Be So "Subtle"

As I went through the morning paper,I was immediately startled by one article. It was about global warming, and how it may not be as "subtle" as we originally expected. Instead, it could be violent and erratic. Would this finally cause the "skeptics" to wake up?

In this morning's LA Times, I found this:

Foreshadowing potential climate chaos to come, early global warming caused unexpectedly severe and erratic temperature swings as rising levels of greenhouse gases helped transform Earth, a team led by researchers at UC Davis said Thursday.

The global transition from ice age to greenhouse 300 million years ago was marked by repeated dips and rises in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and wild swings in temperature, with drastic effects on forests and vegetation, the researchers reported in the journal Science.

Apparently the last time the earth experienced the type of warming that we are facing today, it was not all that slow and innocuous. In fact, the climate change was violent and drastic. The plants of that era could not survive the wild fluctuations in temperature.

Over several million years, carbon dioxide in the ancient atmosphere increased from about 280 parts per million to 2,000 ppm, the same increase that experts expect by the end of this century as remaining reserves of fossil fuels are burned...

Carbon dioxide levels last year reached 380 ppm, rising at almost twice the rate of a decade ago, experts said. Average global temperatures have been rising about 0.36 of a degree Fahrenheit per decade for the last 30 years.

Well, the obvious difference today is that WE ARE CONTRIBUTING TO THIS CLIMATE CHANGE! By driving our gas-guzzling SUVs, using electricity from oil and coal, and basically relying on fossil fuels for all our energy needs, we are accelerating the normal warming pattern of the planet...
And if we do not stop this dangerous behavior, then we may end up causing the most cataclysmic change in weather that this earth has seen in 300 million years.

"It was a real yo-yo," said UC Davis geochemist Isabel Montanez, who led researchers from five universities and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in a project funded by the National Science Foundation. "Should we expect similar but faster climate behavior in the future? One has to question whether that is where we are headed."...

Instead of a relatively gradual transition from a cold world to a warm one, as many scientists had believed occurred, Montanez and her colleagues found fever spikes of climate change correlated with fluctuating levels of carbon dioxide, like a seismometer graph of the myriad tremors before and after a major earthquake.

"CO2 goes up and temperature goes up. It drops and temperature drops," Montanez said.

"It suggests," she said, "that the normal behavior in major climate transitions is instability, erratic temperature behavior and carbon dioxide changes."

So will it take a severe catastrophe to wake up the doubters? Will it take such a huge disaster to cause Big Oil to realize that adapting to a new reality is not just good for the environment, but "good" for the very survival of Planet Earth as we know it? What will it take to cause Washington to act on what may clearly be the greatest global security threat of the 21st century? What will cause these folks to wake up?

I sincerely hope that as the Democrats take hold of Capitol Hill, that they make climate change a priority issue NOW. By the time that we start seeing such violent change on our planet, it will be too late. The damage will have been done. This is why WE MUST ACT NOW. Let's starting weaning ourselves off our addiction to fossil fuels. Let's begin using our energy more wisely, and let's begin using our energy from renewable sources, such as the sun and the wind. If we do something now, we can prevent such a global catastrophe from occurring. If we wait, we are putting our entire planet at risk.

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