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Industrial man turned up the heat

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
May 13, 2005


Earth is more than a planet, more than a rock floating in the vastness of space, and more than a spiritual metaphor. The Earth is more than a collection of marketable resources, waiting to be exploited in whatever way possible. The earth is our home, our pantry, and our collective backyard. Turning up the heat is hardly in our best interest.

Allow me to borrow the hip-hop wisdom of Nelly when I say "It's getting hot in here," with no hope of leaving the proverbial kitchen.

For years now the debate about global warming has been mired in the politics of maintaining corporate hegemony. Long before work on the Kyoto Protocol began and the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 was even considered, scientists have been piecing together evidence connecting the burning of fossil fuels, and other anthropogenic greenhouse gases to climate change and global warming. And there is plenty of evidence.

Sure, natural cycles contribute to global warming and cooling. These cycles have evolved over billions of years, and are still evolving. Most educated people don't question that. At question is whether humans are contributing to the observed increase in global temperatures. Sound science says yes.

Unfortunately, with every piece of evidence naysayers cry "socialist conspiracy!" to all who will listen. Financing the naysayers, industries profiting most from climate changing pollution, spend millions, if not billions, denouncing ecologists, biologists, climatologists, geophysicists, and meteorologists documenting and communicating the growing impact of industrial pollution, auto emissions, factory farming, and deforestation.

Sorry folks, the era of orchestrated doubt and delay is over. Not over are the consequences of 300 years of industrial pollution being spewed into the lower atmosphere. "But wait!" some will say "Where is the definitive proof?"

Countering all science supporting the human induced global warming theory with denial and unsubstantiated rebuttals, Naysayers will always demand more proof of global warming, even as it is waved in front of their face. Shrinking glaciers, rising ocean levels fatal heat waves, shifting weather patterns, and the continuous build up of greenhouse gases in the lower atmosphere, are obviously not enough.

That, my friend is where the rocket scientists come in.

According to James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University's Earth Institute, "There can no longer be genuine doubt that human-made gases are the dominant cause of observed warming."

Researchers, led by Hansen, used data provided by cutting edge technology to calculate the oceans' heat content and the global "energy imbalance". Satellites are also utilized to gauge the rise in ocean levels due to ice melt and as the seas warm and expand.

The team of scientists from NASA, Columbia University, and the U.S. Department of Energy, found that for every square mile of surface area, the planet is absorbing almost one watt more of the sun's energy than it is radiating back to space as heat. Such absorbed energy will steadily warm the atmosphere throughout the foreseeable future, even if greenhouse gas creation were immediately capped.

This large imbalance is the proverbial smoking gun environmentalists have been waiting to hang their "I told you so" on.

Of course the naysayers will find ways to explain away global warming, rising ocean levels, intensified storms, the spread of disease to new areas, and shifting climate zones as they have in the past. Drier farmlands and wetter deserts can always be explained away by natural cycles. And when they are once again proven is proven wrong by scientists, such as the study just released by NASA, the disciples of denial will then blame God, whose divine intervention will be attributed to the scourge of paganism, homosexuality, and abortion.

With this new and compelling evidence supporting the human induced global warming theory, now is the time for mitigation, conservation, and preservation if we as a species are to persevere in spite of our record of criminal misconduct towards the planet that sustains us and every other species on earth.

It would be a crime against all living species to ignore the growing library of data scientific humans have turned up the heat and continue to do so. Regrettably that is exactly what will happen, because human nature has always been predisposed towards self-destruction.

Personally I like the idea of learning to live with less, considerably less. Perhaps if we, as a culture, learn to live with less pollution, less smog, less traffic, less automobiles, and for Cher's sake, less Hummers, future generations will have more time to repair the damage done by our primitive culture of the industrial age.

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