THE TRUTH ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE
CLIMATE CHANGE IS A FACT. Temperatures are increasing and will continue to increase slowly in the immediate future. Temperature rise will be minimal (perhaps 1 degree by 2020), accompanied by a slight rise in sea levels (nowhere near destructive) because of melting (largely) arctic ice. Floating ice already displaces 90-percent of its volume under water, so the increase in water volume due to melting will be limited to about 10-percent of the melted ice volume. Antarctic ice is land-based, and its volume is increasing.
Currently Earth is in a (geologically well-documented) interglacial period, coming off a glacial period of the recent geologic past (10-12,000 years ago). There have been, in fact, several prior glacial periods (and interglacial periods necessarily between); some have influenced mankind, and there’s no evidence that this pattern will not continue in the future. Earth’s temperatures can be expected to vary in such a dynamic system, and they do. In other words, global warming is currently taking place as is its nature.
Only one large volcano can cause sudden massive alterations to global temperature (and atmospheric CO2) that may continue over an extended period. It’s perfectly natural that Earth will continue to experience innumerable volcanic events (terrestrial and subsea), all of which have contributed and will contribute to changes in at least local climates. Nature adapts to this change, maintaining a delicate balance that we cannot (and may never) understand at our present level of knowledge. The sun also has a major effect—it’s our natural furnace—and solar variations result in planetary changes. The mechanics of the solar effect are only vaguely understood.
However, we do know that Earth has a built-in adaptive system that maintains the delicate balance necessary for life on the planet and, as the sun is Earth’s furnace, Earth’s thermostat is its ubiquitous water. The major factor in Earth’s changing climate is not coal, nor mankind, nor carbon dioxide, or anything other than Earth’s water. It’s all about water…
The hydrosphere includes all of Earth’s water in all its forms (vapor, liquid and ice) in all its locations (atmosphere, biosphere and lithosphere). We don’t know its source (it probably is a product of the living earth itself), but we do know that the amount of water in earth’s system remains constant—it does not increase or decrease. Water exists naturally in all three forms—solid(ice), liquid(!), and gas(vapor) and as such is indestructible, changing form easily within a temperature range tolerable by life: solid to liquid (or the reverse) at 32-degreesF, liquid to gas (or vice-versa) at 212-degreesF. What else is so rapidly adaptable to change? Or durable?
The earth’s water is constant and remains balanced between its three phases, transferring easily between the lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere so easily that we don’t even notice it. (And we adapt to it, without even thinking about it.) What else is so constant? Or mobile? Or reliable?
Further, the interchange between its forms being virtually instantaneous and automatically varying in response to temperatures within the system provides the rapid spontaneous balance necessary for earth’s adaptability to changing conditions. There is constant feedback between the oceans (and the rest of the hydrosphere) and the atmosphere.
Oceans cover some 70-percent of Earth (about 130 million of Earth’s area of 197 Million square miles). The average depth of the oceans is about 2.4 MILES; this translates to some 343,548,500,000,000,000,000 gallons of water always moving by convection, pressure, evaporation, gravity and the Coriolis effect (caused by Earth’s rotation). This massive (and active) heat sink has great impact on temperature, the atmosphere and therefore the biosphere as well. There is constant exchange of energy between the oceans (and the rest of the hydrosphere) and the atmosphere, that helps maintain Earth’s life-sustaining balance.
Ocean currents are instrumental in controlling Earth’s climate; in fact, they are a major mechanism of climate. Seventeen major currents (and many minor ones) affect the seas, among them the Gulf Stream, Kuroshio, Equatorial, Humboldt, Labrador and Australian Currents. Some are warm, others cool, but all move vast amounts of seawater over vast areas of Earth in all three dimensions, necessarily affecting climate and temperatures. www.sciencedaily.com/articles/
Earth even has a pulse. Tides rise and fall regularly about twice daily in a range of about 2-32 feet depending on latitude, moving water not only vertically but laterally as well.
Atmospheric gases are produced by biological reactions of Earth’s water, soils and rocks, and are maintained despite changes in earth processes. Atmospheric conditions are affected in a narrow range by the life they support. Air is 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen, just under 1% Argon and traces of other gases, and 0.04% Carbon Dioxide. CO2 is critical to maintaining atmospheric temperatures and maintaining the Oxygen level. More carbon dioxide? Nature provides more plants—both terrestrial and aquatic—to process it. Moreover, ocean salinity remains at about the 3.4% necessary for its life to exist in spite of natural phenomena that would seem to alter this number, partly a function of organic processes; it’s an important fact that organisms naturally improve their environment in order to survive. (This ought to include man as well.)
Water vapor is by far the most important ‘greenhouse gas’ (75% of the atmosphere); it exists as part of the natural (and necessary) hydrologic cycle which maintains Earth’s delicate water balance (and affects Earth’s climate as well). Our understanding of all factors affecting the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere is far from complete, but it appears that it is greatly affected by evaporation over the oceans. Regarding carbon dioxide (0.04% of the atmosphere): consider that we exhale, and vegetation absorbs, the gas. Life cannot survive without it. We have no way of knowing how vegetation and the oceans maintain the delicate balance.
The very existence of greenhouse gases speaks volumes for the ability of earth processes to have created the balance necessary for life as we know it, and to make the corrections necessary to maintain what it itself has created—the biosphere (all living things). There have been countless variations and consequent adjustments to climate throughout the millennia. How does this balance come to be? The fact is that it’s a naturally-evolved system, not just a collection of neatly-categorized programmable variables.
Natural climate change normally proceeds relatively slowly. As it does, nature adapts in important ways over which we have no control. Balance is the key, and it exists with or without mankind (part of that balance).
That water changes temperature (and form) readily provides a stabilizing influence. For instance, the temperature of ground water (that tapped by wells) tends to reflect the average temperature of the system of which it is a part (ground water varies in temperature from about 53-degreesF in the Northeast to perhaps 56-degreesF in the Southwest in keeping with the regional average annual temperature). It’s natural.
Changes in Earth’s temperature are unremitting and automatic, part of the planet’s ability to sustain itself. Earth has survived glacial ages and periods of ‘excessive’ warmth. Through it all the total amount of water has remained constant while it changes form in response to temperature. Amazing? Actually not, because it is the system. We just have to accept it for what it is, and not try to control it (because we can’t). That these conditions may not last forever should be obvious, but just as obvious should be the fact that life adapts as the earth adjusts—that is to say, v e r y s l o w l y. Nor can man control earth’s climate. He will adapt to it, and it will adapt to mankind. Man is guest here, not host. We are pawns of nature, not its master.
Nature? Get used to it.