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Friday, December 11, 2009

Global Warming: Fact or Fiction?

Is global warming real? Or is it just another plot for Hollywood disaster movies? Before we go any further, let us have a reality check. For starters, we live in the 21st century. We have made major technological advancements in the past 100 years and applied those to our daily life and made our lives easier. We have made cars that are faster, safer and can provide point-to-point voice guidance. We made airplanes that can fly us across the oceans in a just few hours. We invented computers that can outsmart us, digital camera that can take thousands of pictures and yet need no film, digital television that can display life-like pictures, e-mail that travels faster than sound, cell phones that allow us to roam around the world and still be in touch with our friends and family. Then we combined them all into a small device called smart phone. We invented pacemakers to keep our hearts ticking. We found ways to clone ourselves and other animals. We have launched satellites to track and predict weather patterns. Forty years ago, we sent a man to the moon. Today, we send a dozen men and women to space stations every year. We even send probes to mars to and moon to learn about their planetary conditions. Yet… we doubt that global warming is real.

Isn’t it shocking that, in spite of, all the technological advancement we have made, we still have a large population, who is unwilling to acknowledge and address global warming and subsequent climate changes. Even worse, a lot of our congressmen and senators, the wise guys that we elected to run the country, the very people we look for leadership and guidance, don’t want to believe it either. I wonder why? Aren’t they supposed to be wiser than us? Don’t they know better? May be they do, but choose to ignore it for their selfish motives and financial gains. Let’s consider another factor here: According to the US census Bureau, 26% of the total population in the US, is under the age 18; 62% is in the range of 18-64. That means a total of 88% under the age of 64. The median age of American population is 35.3. However, the average age of a US senator is 61.7 years. In fact, of a total of 100 US senators, 60 are over 60 years old; 26 are 70 or older. Could this be the reason why they don't care about the long-term future of our planet? Is it that they don't care because they think they are not going to be here 50 years from now? Or, is it because, they are more loyal to the big corporate companies, who send fat checks to their campaign fund. Whatever may be the reason, they don’t seem to care about tax payers, who pay their salary.

The big question everyone is asking is "how much of the global warming is caused by humans?" To answer that question, we need to understand a few things first. Right now, global warming is posing such a threat to our planet because of the rate at which it is happening. Global warming has been an ongoing process since the early days of our planet. However, the process was slow enough that earth was able to recover from it overtime. Natural forests and wetlands and oceans were able to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, store carbon and release oxygen back to the atmosphere. However, since the advent of industrial revolution, human consumption of natural resources like water, fossil fuels, metals, and wood has multiplied by several folds. Gas emissions caused by industrial plants, power stations and motor vehicles have seen a huge increase in the past 50 years leading to a rapid increase in gases like Carbon dioxide, Methane, Nitrogen Oxide and Fluorinated gases. These gases are responsible for trapping heat in the atmosphere. Industrial growth and increasing human population also caused increased deforestation and reclamation of wetlands to fulfill our ever-growing needs. This meant not enough CO2 is being absorbed from the atmosphere leading to an unprecedented increase in the CO2 in the atmosphere.

However, this is not the only way humans contributing to global warming. When we started inhabiting bigger cities, tall buildings were built to accommodate more people in a smaller geographical area. When we build bigger taller buildings, we are essentially increasing surface area because the total surface area of the building replaces the original surface area. Increased surface area means increased heat absorption from sunlight. Now, imagine a city with many such buildings. The effective atmospheric temperature increases substantially. This is one of the reasons why big cities tend to be hotter compared small towns. This created a vicious cycle. Increase in atmospheric temperature means increased use of air conditioning units and refrigerators. This, in turn leads to increased emission CFC and HCFC gases. These gases are well-known to cause the depletion of ozone layer, which means more harmful radiation was able to enter the earth’s atmosphere and subsequent increase in temperature. All these factors lead to a more rapid increase in atmospheric temperature and subsequent melting of Ice caps.

The weather system on earth is controlled by “The Great Ocean Conveyer belt”; water currents in the ocean where the warm water on the surface of the oceans flowing from the equatorial region all the way up to the Arctic region, where it gets cooled down, and the cold water flows through the bottom of the ocean to the Antarctic region and back to the equator. It is this constant flow of hot and cold water that controls the wind patterns on earth’s atmosphere and also a deciding factor in the weather. The melting ice caps lead to change in the ocean currents and subsequent changes in wind patterns. This resulted in an array of problems. Recent years have seen increasingly unpredictable weather. Many parts of the world are experiencing severe drought and dry conditions, while some other is faced with severe storms and flooding. We are experiencing hotter summers and colder winters. It is obvious that no single species on earth has caused more damage to this planet than us humans.

That brings us to the next question. Should we sit back and watch the show when our planet is being destroyed right in front of us? Have we lost our senses? Are we too blind to see what is happening around us every day? Have we lost our ability to react? Or, are we just too lazy to even care?

We need this planet, not just for us, but also for our children, grandchildren and many generations to come. Do you really want them to suffer for the past generations faults? Think about all the effort you take to be a good parent? All the suffering we go through so that our children can have a better life? If we don't leave a healthy planet for them to inhabit, all the hard work will be in vain. These issues are real, and looms over the future of our planet. Do not think they will go away if we ignore them. We can still save our planet. Remember! We are all in this together. It is time to face the truth. So, let us open our eyes, look around, acknowledge what we see and act before it is too late. Let us work together for a better tomorrow.


  1. Well I think you said everything an environmentalist would say. I would have to agree with you on this topic. I also think we (younger generation) isn't confident enough in ourselves to take on the "big' companies. We also like the convienence of our cars, cell phones, computers, etc. Dr. Phil mentioned that the generation below us is the ME generation, so why should they care if it isn't affecting/effecting them now right at this moment and the parents will take of it for them.

  2. You didn't answer the question you asked.

    Climate change is real, always has been. But what are the root causes? CO2? Man made CO2?

  3. Good question Anonymous. I have made an addendum to the post. Look for the section in italics. That should answer your question. Thanks.

  4. A lot of words that contain relatively few thoughts.

    Yes, there is a global environmental crisis. This crisis has a thousand faces. This crisis does threaten the existence of humanity and other life forms.

    But the evidence that "global warming" is a symptom of this crisis is shaky. There are great political forces at work that want to manipulate this issue, and the idealism of young people who care for their environment, for their own ends. The aim is money and power - the largest tax increase in a generation for the banks, a financial market bigger than oil for the wall street guys to glut on.

    We shouldn't dismiss the East Anglia emails importance. They demonstrate that there is a lot of uncertainty among the top scientists, that they did tamper with their data, and that the "peer review" process is a small clique peer reviewing each other's papers.

    The science is this: the 20th century was warming. But it wasn't linearly related with Carbon output. The role of humans in the warming is not precisely determined.

    A question that hasn't been asked enough is this: What if global warming is beneficial? More CO2 is more food for plants, warmer temperatures lead to longer growing seasons. These are not the makings of environmental cataclysm.

  5. Sasha,
    Thanks for joining the debate. Let me address some of the issues that you have raised. You mentioned that global warming is thrown at us because the political forces is making money out of us and that a force bigger than oil companies is at work to promote global warming, but the truth, is just the opposite. In 2008 alone, the top six profit-making companies in the world are all oil companies. If do your research, you will find these trend has existed for the past many, many years. Now the fight against global warming is so difficult because the fight is against “ Money and Power.” It is an uphill task because these companies, with their money and power, are able to buy our politicians to lobby for them, without considering the common man. Don’t you get it? They want us to believe that there is no global warming so that they can keep making more and more profit by selling more fossil fuels and power us. Think about it, if people become more aware and take action against global warming, the big oil companies and the conventional power companies will be the first ones to suffer.
    May I also, remind you that it would be foolish to weigh in such an important issue on some leaked emails. Often such issues are blown out of proportion in the competition among the media to get you glued to their channel in order to get their ratings high, which in turn means more revenue from commercials. Often, they are distracted by juicier issues like the Tiger Woods’ Affair. Your argument that more CO2 is good for the trees, actually made me wonder if you have paid attention to what you’ve read in this article. The problem we have is that there is way more CO2 in the atmosphere than our ecosystem can recycle. There are not enough trees in our forests, or wetlands to keep up with the ever-increasing emissions. If you were implying, once the human species comes to an end, without human-aided global warming nature will be able to recover slowly and hence it will be good for trees; that is a different argument. However, that is exactly what we are trying to prevent. We want to save the planet without having to kill billions of people around the world.
    Anyone who have read the history, will know that great scientists like Copernicus and Galileo have faced enormous opposition from the then church-controlled society. That is because they did not like to change their beliefs, albeit they were wrong. Galileo was imprisoned and later kept in house arrest. It took 359 years for the church to finally publicly agree with Galileo. However, in the issue of global warming, I doubt we have so much time left to react.

  6. Technically more CO2 would not be too bad if the CO2 cycle kicks in. The warmer it gets, the more CO2 can be absorbed into water.

  7. Technically it may be possible, but not practically. The reason being as the ocean absorbs more CO2 it increases the acidity of the ocean water and makes it unlivable for many microorganisms that actually helps to convert the CO2 into water and oxygen. In fact, studies conducted by oceanographers have shown that the emissions absorbed by oceans may have declined as much as 10% since 2000, which means that oceans are not able to keep up with the rapid increase in emissions. There is a lot of misinformation out there. It is like a room filled with smoke. Until the smoke clears, you won’t be able to see things clearly. That is exactly what I am trying to do, to clear some smoke because 50 years from now, if I am still alive, I would like to tell my grandkids, that I played my part in saving our planet. I hope you do too.