Unpopular opinions

Scribbled down on March 22nd, 2009 by she
Posted in Frothing At The Bit

Isn’t it supposed to be spring? Looking out the window – or trying to take the dogs for a walk – today makes one wonder.

Hey, I’m Canadian. When we’re not talking about hockey ot Timmies Roll Up the Rim contest, we seem to fall back on complaining about the weather.

Of course all those semesters of Enviro Science classes make me less willing to jump on the “man made climate change” bandwagon. Now, I’m certainly not suggesting that we humans haven’t had an impact on ozone levels and climate but I do think the level of human involvement in natual planetary cycles has been taken way out of proportion.

What’s the point of being self-aware if we can’t think that everything is all about us? To a certain extent, that’s what I think has helped make “climate change” the new sexy trend to blindly follow this century. Whether true or not, I think this sense of self-import plays a part in the public popularity of purported “climate change”.

Good thing most climate change fans haven’t had to suffer through semesters of Enviro Chem and Enviro Science classes and had to slogged their way through a number of dry textbooks before being authorized to spout off the opinions to the masses. If they had, they might find their response to the concept of “high impact man made actions” bearing the highest level of responsibility for weather patterns becoming more jaded with each class completed.

Any checks of the historical record will turn up freezing winters and hot summers over a hundred years ago. Before mass immigration to Canada, before the baby boom, and before the excavation of the oil sands.

Studies of ice cores and rock stratia show multi-year climate cycles going back thousands of years. What is now desert in Africa use to be lush and fertile valleys. Nature’s cycles have more influence than we’ve been giving them credit for of late.

Perhaps we need to re-learn that we cannot control everything in nature. Nor should we be able to. I think it would help keep us humble.

Maybe then we can focus our energies on things that we mere humans can control – like our treatment of those around us.

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2 Responses to “Unpopular opinions”

  1. But I was under the impression that man made climate change was more about the unusual patterns vs excessive heat or cold. Some of the stuff I’ve read even speaks of cyclic weather patterns through the centuries. What they warn against, is the killer hurricanes, tornadoes, floods out of the “normal” season that is the indicator.

  2. The problem with that concept is that we’re using data that goes back maybe 100-150 years and calling that that “normal cycle or season” for a planet that’s had many different cycles over its history. It ignores previous cycles and extrapolates future data based on a tiny slice of information.

    To borrow a few paragraphs from past research papers:

    The extent of the damage attributable to greenhouse gasses and the Earth’s natural ability to recover from the emission of the gasses is currently under debate in the scientific community (Lichter, 2008). While popular belief in the western public and media treats climate change as an irrefutable fact, 40% of scientists associated with the American Meteorological Society or the American Geophysical Union who were surveyed consider the study of climate change, including establishing limits of human responsibility, to be within the realm of “emerging” science (Lichter, 2008).

    Climate change is a complicated field of study, it is often difficult for the average layperson to determine what constitutes “truth”. In the STATS survey, only 29% of scientists express a “great deal of confidence” that scientists understand the extent of human responsibility for greenhouse gasses while 32% indicate confidence in their understanding of “archaeological climate evidence” (Lichter, 2008). If the very scientists considered experts in the field are unable to confidently explain what changes are occurring in the environment, the causes of those changes, the potential damage and methods for mitigating the damage, how can the general public make informed decisions about what constitutes “climate change” and what (if anything) should be done?

    Popular opinion relating to climate change is easily swayed in the media or by Charismatic environmentalists (i.e. Al Gore). Opinions express by these individuals encourage the general public to push for modifications to existing government environmental policies and for the development of new technologies to replace existing ones. However, this lack of knowledge and understanding of all elements in the field of play may actually result in further damage being done to the environment. Some Western societies are pursuing alternate fuels to replace oil such as ethanol blended gas. This pursuit has been spurred partially by the need to generate a replacement fuel to replace reducing oil reserves but also to address perceived environmental hazards associated with burning fossil fuels. However, an article in Science Daily (2007) recently reported that “producing ethanol from corn grain can release large amounts of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the environment”. A recent study completed by Scripps Institute of Oceanography (2008) scientists found that the greenhouse gas used in production of solar panels, nitrogen triflouride (NF3), is 17,000 more potent than carbon dioxide and is being released into the atmosphere at an ever increasing rate. Unsafe or improper production of the publically popular alternate fuel and energy sources could potentially be causing more damage to the environment and increasing the climate change phenomenon than the fuel it is intended to replace.

    Lichter, S. R (2008) Climate scientists agree on warming, disagree on dangers, and don’t trust the media’s coverage of climate change. Retrieved October 24, 2008 from STATS website: http://stats.org/stories/2008/global_warming_survey_apr23_08.html

    ScienceDaily. (2007). It’s not easy being green: Ethanol production requires careful management for maximum environmental benefits. Retrieved October 26, 2008 from ScienceDaily web site: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070218140850.htm

    Scripps Institute of Oceanography [Scripps] (2008). News Release: Potent greenhouse gas more prevalent in atmosphere than previously assumed. Retrieved October 29, 2008 from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography website: http://scrippsnews.ucsd.edu/Releases/?releaseID=933

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