It’s been said that the Earth is round so that man can see only as far as he can handle at any one time (that’s about 13 miles, depending on how tall you are).  That doesn’t amount to much when you think about how far far can be; that can be hard to handle.

Let’s begin by defining nature. That’s the Universe, which includes our planet.  On it, traveling in a straight line, you’d cover about 25,000 miles before returning to where you started (that’s the circumference of our planet).  Quite a trip, but not nearly as far as far goes…

How about 276,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (276Septillion, or 276 thousand multiplied by itself seven times) miles?  That’s FAR.  And getting farther… The Universe is expanding, and it’s already…

BIG – the Universe (nature) is 46 BILLION light years across, a light year being the distance light travels (at 186,000 miles per second) in one year.  And that’s just what we know. To put this in perspective:

One light year = 5.87849981 × 1012 miles.  That’s nearly: 6 followed by 12 zeroes, or 6,000,000,000,000 miles.  Multiply that by 46 Billion and you might be overwhelmed by how big BIG can be.

Before we go further, you may wish to click on to see how Earth (a living planet, our part of nature) deals with itself, all by itself, naturally. Or just keep reading…

Fact: Natural (including organic) systems are “non-fragile,” meaning they develop as a response to disorder.  In other words, they repair and develop on their own, and we don’t have a clue how that works.  Or how it is responsible for every one of its residents, including you.

We also might define fact, since that’s what we’re dealing with—truth. “Everything is what it is, and not another thing” said Bishop William Butler in the 18th Century; this in fact defines truth.  Truth is what is:  Fact, certainty, reality, actuality.  It simply is what it is, and not another thing, perfect: a first principle having no origin.  Truth: fact, certainty, reality, actuality; where things begin. An origin can’t be perfectly defined because we must use words, which require truth to even be.

Words are artifacts(?) of man used to describe what is as best we can.   A few specifics about words: 1) we take them at face value; 2) we take them for granted; and 3) they are only approximations for our best guess at reality.  Their significance is not so much the words themselves, but what they mean.

We devise words to try to describe what is, but our definitions use those same words so are by nature imperfect.  But it remains that words, with all their ambiguities and limitations, are what we have to work with, and we constantly have to be cautious of getting lost in them.    With these caveats in mind, we can proceed with the task at hand…dealing with global warming.

Global warming is a fact (so is global cooling, although that’s not what’s happening now).  Earth’s conditions continue to change because of constant cosmological geological and biological functioning. The planet precesses (wobbles on its axis) as it turns, and its poles shift. The atmosphere is chaotic: temperatures change, sunspots affect climate.  Recent studies show that the sun’s activity affects the formation of certain clouds (water vapor), which themselves affect climatic conditions.  Temperatures vary naturally.  Plate tectonics move entire continental masses, and sub-sea rifting and volcanoes affect wide-ranging ocean currents and temperatures world-wide.  Tides rise and fall daily.  Earth is not a static entity—it’s dynamic, constantly changing, and it’s big.

As a living planet, Earth and its climate necessarily are in constant flux, climate changing relatively slowly (a notable exception being that related to vulcanism, which can be very fast indeed).  Data-gathering methods (and precision of measurement) have literally exploded over the past few decades, providing reams of detailed information about recent conditions.  This introduces the problem of an abundance of recent directly-recorded detailed data to be integrated with sparse historic data necessarily inferred from the geologic/biologic record.

This concludes Part  1 of a series.  More to come…!